Dragons of Blackminster

ToA 17 - The Jaguar and the Bear

Unkillable Ront Rusthammer

RECAP … After a full day in the City, they have completed…
• Shrine of Koobazan the Froghemoth (balance beams and gas)
• Shrine of Unkh the Flail Snail (puzzle about the order of the gods on keys)
• Shrine of Moa the Jaculi (Snake) (pits and a puzzle and archer statues)
• killed Bag of Nails – the mad Tabaxi Hunter

Still to do…
• Shagambi the Kamadan (Jaguar with snake hair) Orvex knows where this is and it is some kind of gladiatorial challenge based on honour)
• Wongo the Su-Monster (Mad Psionic Monkey)
• Ijin the Al Miraj (Hare)
• Papazotl the Eblis (Crane)
• Ooblaki the Zorbo (Angry Bear)
• NangNang the Grung

They know there are at least two more Black Circle Wizards sneaking about (part of the Lich’s expedition, that brought Orvex in as a translator and history expert). Orvex knows these are called “Xandala” a half-elf sorcereress. and Dryax, a wizard, a fellow Arab with a flair for acrobatic swordsmanship!

Aerial saw a huge T-Rex with Feathers pass by in the night.

They know there are Yuan-Ti in an underground complex beneath the Royal Palace

They expect the Lich “Valindra Shadowmantle” to return with the Mask of the Flail Snail (stolen from Wakanga Otamu, the Merchant Prince of Antiquities back in Port Nyaranzu)

They know where the Tomb of the Nine Gods is located (area 14 on the map) and that they need the 9 puzzle cubes to open the entrance and that each intruder will need a Mask of one of the Nine Gods to protect them when they are inside (to protect them from some kind of death curse – probably not instant death, but inevitable and inescapable).

The next morning, they re-cross the 60 ft gap from the Moa Shrine’s pinnacle of rock, over the lava lake to the main city. Ariel crosses the damaged rope in the form of the small spider, then attaches another rope to patch up the section hacked by the mad tabaxi. Then, in an effort to preserve his Dimension Door spell, Juma attempts to tie a safety line over the rope, attached to his belt and then climb across. Part way he slips and his belt breaks and he begins to fall 200 ft to the lava! [GM: rolled a 1]

Fortunately, he dimension doors to safety before he hits the bottom.

Click follows Juma’s “safety-line” method and manages to get across.

Orvex decides not to risk it (he is a frail old man!) and reluctantly reveals that he has spells of his own. He unties the rope and then dimension doors himself and Ront across. He admits he was unsure whether to trust them until now.

[GM: Orvex has been re-written as a 7th-level Bard of Lore in order to be a player character for Frank (who then wasn’t able to make it to this session).]

They head through the cloud of steam, back into the city and to the Shrine of the Jaguar (Shigambi the Kamadan). Orvex had been here before with the Lich’s expedition and they had looked inside but not entered the gladiatorial pit.

Juma deliberately mis-translated the words above the door, telling Ront they said “The Champion of Torkas awaits inside”. One of Ront’s life-goals is to find the current champion of Torkas and fight him to the death. Orvex is clearly not happy with the deception and tries to talk Juma out of it, but doesn’t actually interfere.

Inside there are 4 statues with missing spears. Downstairs there is a small arena with a symbol on the floor you can step on to summon a Terracotta Warrior for a duel.

Ront faces the first one alone – after ceremonial bows, he rages and just (by the skin of his teeth) manages to defeat the construct. It drops to the floor, disintegrates immediately with all its armour and shield, but leaving the spear behind. Raging Ront charges further past the arena to find 4 small cells with portcullises down. Behind three of them are 3 more Terracotta Warriors (not animated).

When his rage subsides, he notices carvings on the walls that depict various forms of “honourable” combat. It seems it would be OK for more than one person to enter the arena. You can gang-up on the gladiator as long as nobody outside the arena interferes in any way.

They all enter the arena next time (even Orvex) and summon the next challenge. It is easier to defeat with all of them working together, but it gets a few good spear thrusts in against some of them and there is danger that the raging Ront will attack them when he runs out of enemies. Ariel (in giant spider form on the ceiling) bites and poisons it. Click mainly uses Sacred Flame. Juma and Orvex mainly use Eldritch Blasts, but Juma also spends time making preparations for escaping Ront (disguising himself as Orvex)!

Just before the next one falls, Juma summons a third, and then a fourth. Each is defeated and leaves its spear behind. They avoid doing anything from outside the Arena, so all the victories are “honourable”. There is a mad scramble to get away from Ront at the end as he chases them and nearly hacks Orvex to death, but he snaps out of it before delivering the death blow.

Putting the spears into the hands of the weapon-less statues above reveals the puzzle cube and they take it safely and then spend a short rest healing up. The fight used a lot of spells and almost all of their stamina [GM: Hit Dice]

They head for the next Shrine, that of Oobalakoo the Zorbo (a crazy-looking bear with razor-sharp claws). The words over the entry to this shrine are about “tread warily” and “the light”. Inside a tunnel with eight empty torch holders. There is a lot of confusion caused by magical pools that teleport people from room to room. They also find a secret door but are unable to open it, despite a knock spell from Orvex – it has multiple bars/bolts on the inside.

Ront takes the lead and goes through the pools to reach an inner chamber where a wizard appears to have been turned to stone when he touched the puzzle cube. When the others come through Orvex recognises the wizard as an earlier member of the Lich’s squad “A very, very dangerous bastard!” It is obvious from his petrified body that he has a magical wand in his belt and a satchel of spellbooks. They don’t touch him or the cube. [GM: very wise as doing so would have petrified them!]. There are eight lit torches in the room. Transporting the torches out via the magical pools puts them out. Returning them to the inner room re-lights them.

Juma cleverly uses a locate object spell from the outer pool to locate the puzzle cube and finds that the other end of the teleport is still inside the same small shrine and the inner chamber is in the middle. They know there must be another secret door and eventually find it. Through the tunnel they can transport the eight torches.

When they place the eighth torch in the holder, unknown to them, inside the central room the wizard is un-petrified and lights a torch of his own and pockets the cube. three of them (Juma, Ariel and Ront) head through the pools back to the middle where they find the wizard. Orvex remains halfway out while Click has retreated outside.

Ront attempts a deception to give them a chance to ambush him, but the guy is too wily [GM: Ront rolled only 2 and this particular wizard actually has a deception of +10]

The wizard fireballs them with a massive amount of damage. Only Juma manages to evade part of the blast [GM: saves and survives by 1 hp]. Ariel and Ront drop immediately, Ront’s Relentless Endurance got used in the earlier fight. Juma dives into the pool and teleports out screaming at Orvex and Click to run for their lives.

Click runs around like a headless chicken! In and out of the building in absolute panic but spots torch light coming down the secret tunnel then. Orvex tries to hide outside. Click and Juma circle back inside to try to aid their fallen comrades.

Juma uses another locate object spell to find where the wizard’s magical wand is and knows he has gone outside.

Ront (despite being at death’s door) asks Ariel for a Haste spell and Click for a Death Ward, then races off to try and kill the wizard single-handedly.

He races outside to the rough area described by Juma, and overhears Orvex and another man (the wizard) speaking in Arabic. When he gets to the outer wall, he can only see Orvex, who turns stiffly and says woodenly “The wizard has fled. Please gather your companions close together so I can cast a healing spell on them”.

Fortunately they don’t believe Orvex [GM:Who had been magically dominated by the evil wizard] so they don’t gather together into a convenient place for the invisible wizard to slaughter with another fireball.

Ront spots tracks in the grass and knows where the wizard must be standing. He runs over and attacks. The damage half kills the wizard causes him to lose concentration on the Invisibility and flicker into sight. The wizard responds with a cone of cold that should have totally killed the half-orc [GM who was only on 1 hp]. As the frost clears, Ront is still standing “Death Ward Bitch!” and his hammer crushes the wizard’s skull.

In the aftermath, Orvex apologises, but had been Dominated and told to get the companions to stand close enough together that they could all be killed at once. They find the cube in the satchel along with the wizard’s travelling spellbooks and notes. After an hour of resting, Juma attunes to the magical wand and learns that it grants the cantrip firebolt (even to a none spell-caster) and increases the damage of all fire spells cast by the wielder. [GM increases the dice type, so firebolt will goes from D10 to D12, Fireball goes from d6 to d8 etc.]

The Spellbooks contain…
1st: Detect Magic, Identify, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Shield
2nd: Misty Step, Suggestion, Invisibility, See Invisibility
3rd: Counterspell, Fireball, Fly, Dispel Magic
4th: Ice Storm, Arcane Eye, Wall of Fire
5th: Cone of Cold, Dominate Person

The Journal has notes on the locations of all the Shrines, with translation of the words above their entrances

1. Froghemoth – Kubazan urges us to tread without fear and to give back as much as we take
Jumping across platforms

2. Jaguar – Shagambi teaches us to fight with honor.

3. Snake – Moa teaches us that secrets hide the truth

4. Flail Snail – Unkh teaches us that “The hare is first around Unkh’s clock. The bear is last to open Unkh’s lock”
Riddle, door is locked, lots of keys in garden

5. Horned Hare – l’jin teaches us to take the path least expected
Symbols on tiled floor?

6. Monkey – Wongo teaches us that it is better to be his friend than his enemy
Riddle (Dryax has the wording)

7. Crane – Papazotl teaches us to bow before no one
Crocodiles and a riddle (Dryax has the wording)

8. Grung – Nangnang teaches us to serve only ourselves.
Occupied by 10 Grung warriors, treasure room with illusory treasure?
I used Dominate Person on one of the Grung. It appears that the Shrine of NangNang does not currently have its cube. Each month, on the morning of the day after the new moon, one of the Yuan Ti (always the same one – Ras Nsi’s bodyguard) comes to the Shrine to collect the cube. The Grung dare not stand in his way. I presume this is to ensure that nobody can complete the set.

9. Bear – Obolaka teaches us to tread warily and stay in the light
Teleport through pools, seems harmless