In trying to find a place to sleep, our PCs find bonkers adventures on the high seas!
- Brus Reckoner
- Male half-orc Inquisitor of Yog-Sothoth and slayer of old ladies.
- John “Angel Eyes” Wilmarth
- Male Aasimar Cleric of the mad idiot god Azathoth.
- Fág an Bealach (Faugh)
- Male svirfneblin (smurf) Brawler of archetype Mutagenic Mauler.
- Bill the Bard
- A lost male human bard with his donkey Bottom.
- Male hobgoblin rogue.
The Murder Room
Last week our PCs were lightly beaten and still a little acid-burned when they came across a murder scene. Four people were torn to pieces or blasted into oblivion in what looked like their adventuring headquarters. They were keen on a rest but they weren’t daring enough to sleep amongst viscera.
They found a cache of complicated maps and exploded diagrams of locks. Presumably of the portals they had travelled through. They decided to press on.
Brus is our Travel domain expert, so he regained control of the magic keyring. Previously they found a keyring that if you oriented a key just right, it glowed when a door that that key opened. Using this keyring required a bit of fiddling around. In the headquarters, they found an ornate keyring. This worked differently - if you put an appropriate key in, the entire keyring would levitate and rotate like a compass. This new direction finder pointed to the door they had come through.
Of course that’s insanity - going through the only obvious way out. So they wandered down the hallway. The marble hallways in this place were curious. Smooth floors and smooth walls vaulting far, far, far above them with no visible ceiling. A general white glow from maybe the sky.
The headquarters was around the corner from the door they entered, and there was a long, featureless hallway. One of the group spied some doors at the end. When they examined them, they found three doors, and after a long amount of time probing them for traps and magic… found they were as good as closests.
Attached to each door was a symbol: a triangle, a circle and a plus sign. They tried entering the rooms. Stabbing the floor. They tried all their keys. Nothing. Very curious.
They considered sleeping here, but it was quite an exposed position at the end of a long corridor, with no exit strategy other than the other end of the hall. And it wasn’t that far from “The Murder Room”.
They eventually decided to take a swig of courage and walk through the door at the other end of the hall.
So there they were, at the end of a smooth, silent, marble corridor. They twisted the key and flung open the door. There was a small room behind, with everything rolling left… then right. Through a window they could see roiling sea and a squall. It was not quite a storm yet, but would be soon.
The Bard commented that these mustn’t be good seamen by the way everything was rolling about in a storm. He pulled his donkey into the room and a huge wave rolled them all around and closed the door behind them. They looked around and listened. Blades clashing! A fight!
Turns out they were on an abandoned ship. The shipmen who were supposed to be there had grappled onto a merchant vessel and were murdering the crew!
Our PCs quickly ran to the side of the ship. Some leaped heroically onto the other ship (faceplanting). Others collided with the railing without even making their way across the gap. Still others crept across carefully on grappling hooks.
On the merchant ship were a handful of pirates, a rambunctious captain and a mad scotsman. They were slaughtering the remaining merchant guards (and doing a terrible job at it). The mad scotsman threw bombs into the crowd, obliterating innocent guards and injuring his own crew, swearing… well… like a sailor the whole time.
The PCs had caught the pirates fairly unawares and began carving through them. Brus the Inquisitor made fine use of his newly-acquired lucerne hammer to dance around and punch pirates off the ship.
The fight was a bit of a tussle - not a lot of landed blows, but people were hurting soon enough. The mad scotsman threw numerous bombs into the crowd, and catching the ire of the Bard.
Bill the Bard went invisible and sung a heroic rendition of “A Pirate’s Life” (intended for his companions, not the pirates). He put on a dancing lights show and kept the pirates entertained as Fág did as his name suggested and charged into battle.
The mad scotsman kept a wide berth of everyone, flinging bombs merrily from the cache of them he’d strapped to his barrel chest. He decided to mix it up at just the wrong time. The Bard had prepared a grease spell just in case. The Scotsman grabbed a vial of acid and it popped out the back of his hand and ate away part of the ship’s railing.
John the Cleric and Fág had surrounded Captain Scallywag, attempting to punch or hit him with a Touch of Madness. Fág took a few lumps from the Captain’s great club (a chunk of broken mast refashioned into a weapon). The Captain enjoyed the swashbuckling life and laughed at the combat… Until Fág punched in his lungs. It was an ignoble death, made worse that he couldn’t use the one-liner he had saved up his entire life to use.
Meanwhile, the Bard wasn’t happy about this mad bomber. He had lit the remaining bombs on his chest and mocked the PCs. Bill the Bard gave him a good ol’ rugby shove and he bounced along the railing and then off the ship where the railing had melted away. Above the wind and waves, they could hear a sploosh! and swearing.
They peeked over the edge. The fuse on his chest was still sparking away. They took cover.
Just as a wave lifted both ships high into the air, he exploded, ripping apart the hull below the waterline.
The situation here was that there was a door somewhere on the merchant ship (the Inquisitor with the keyring was running around, happily ignoring his charge). On the pirate ship was Pick’Lick minding the bard’s donkey. There was undoubtedly loot. And both ships were rapidly sinking.
What followed was a comedy of mistakes with people trying to leap between the ships and failing. And then somehow trying to coax the donkey into a majestic leap of its own. Bottom (the donkey) managed it pretty well, but was abandoned by his master when Bill fell between the ships and had to swim back in.
The cleric and svirfneblin knew what was up and made their way through the magic door. They kept the door open and the sea poured into this new room.
Upstairs the Inquisitor decided it was easier to knock the donkey unconscious and carry it down than try anything humane. That plan worked and the Bard got onto the merchant ship in time to see his donkey crumple down the stairs. They dragged themselves and the donkey through the rapidly sinking ship and into the room beyond. With one last mighty push they closed the door on the sea and breathed a sigh of relief.
Trust and die
When they had come to their senses, they looked around. They were in a circular room with a spiral staircase going up to a platform above. The room was full of seawater and flotsam.
It was the lighthouse!
But it was different. Last time they were here they had stolen the lighthousekeeper’s food, clothes and tools, leaving through a magic portal. In fact, that was that very morning.
It appeared as though the lighthousekeeper had thrown a tantrum trying to find the PCs. And his food. And his gear. All the bottles he had used to communicate with the sea hag were shattered. Chairs were smashed into splinters. Written on the inner wall of the lighthouse was the phrase “TRUST AND DIE” over and over. Presumably in ink but they weren’t sure.
The PCs opened the door to the lighthouse and the seawater poured out over the path and back into the sea. On the horizon they could see a rumbling storm - perhaps the squall they had just escaped from.
The PCs exchanged some nervous laughs about the fate of the missing lighthousekeeper, and that they’d effectively set a trap for some portal-jumper in the future. Someone would open the door in the marble hallway and find themselves face-to-face with the bottom of the sea.
They managed to find a dry place to set up camp and slept the night.
A Dead God
The next morning the PCs were refreshed and ready to take on whatever was thrown at them. They reasoned carefully about their keys. They had seen several:
- The original key that took them from the mine into the room full of cats
- The Bard had a key which he swapped with a gnome. That key was gone.
- The gnome’s key took them from the room of cats into the lighthousekeeper’s shack.
- They stole a key from the lighthousekeeper which took them from the lighthouse to Ruined Castle Wayfray.
- They found a key inside a gelatinous cube which took them to the marble hallway.
They knew that walking back into the Ruined Castle would possibly be suicide. Their new key pointed to the door. They bravely forged on.
The lighthouse door was a wooden one, and moved easily. On the other side they found themselves in a stone corridor, tapered towards the ceiling. The opposite side of their door was large stonework. Curious.
Along the hallways were writings at about waist-height. They were at the end of the corridor, so what seemed like a story traced along one side, did a u-turn and kept going along the other side. There were magical lights providing some mood lighting and illuminated the occasional carving of some leader.
The Bard wove a Comprehend Languages on himself. The writings had a peculiar cultural gap that the bard couldn’t work out, but they were the leadership equivalent of “Jacob begat Judas who begat”… A leadership lineage, but not quite military and not quite monarchical. And although it was leadership, there was a feeling of inferiority like they kept things running, but the true power lay elsewhere.
The PCs followed the corridor along until they reached a massive domed room. Massive. Well beyond anyone’s darkvision. The cleric threw up some dancing lights that illuminated a small patch of the ceiling.
But the important thing was a massive raised altar in the middle of the room. On top of the altar was a vial of bubbling reddish-purple goo. The vial was about 50 metres long and truly massive. In a fairly clearly-defined radius around the altar were dessicated corpses. Not so much blasted away from the vial but strewn around. Some had fought one another - one corpse had buried an axe into another. None of the corpses moved, so that was good.
The cleric of Azathoth saw that dire warning and said, “Gotta get me some of that.”
Inside their heads they heard a voice (voices?) saying in a flat monotone, “That would be unwise.”
They turned and saw three creatures hovering nearby. They were in glowing yellow sacs of energy, and mostly a throbbing brain with a vestigial body hanging off.
“Who are you?”
“We… are the Contemplatives.”
What followed was a question-and-answer session with the emotionless Contemplatives. They asked many questions, which I’ll summarise:
- What were they doing?
- The Contemplatives are seekers of knowledge. These three were explorers.
- What were they exploring?
- “This place,” alluding not so much to the tomb but the insane portal dungeon they were running through.
- What were they looking for?
- Knowledge. There was an uneasy trade of copies of the maps they had found earlier for some information and safe passage.
- What is that big vial?
- A dead god.
- Do you know Coin?
- Yes. They would take the PCs to his direction.
- They would take the PCs to an airlock for Coin. They would have to travel through the airlock and find Coin on the other side.
- They tried to explain the maps and the layout of the dungeon to the PCs. As they and others might imagine, the portals link from place to place, one-way, and the map you’d draw would be a sprawling tree. What Coin and others had done is brought that expanding map of madness together at a point. That point was Coin. The airlocks were to put a barrier between Coin and “his place”.
- Who owns this place?
The Contemplatives talked amongst themselves telepathically for a moment before explaining, “It’s complicated.” They then rattled off a long list of names:
- The Oracle of Discordia
- Hurk ‘Maelstrom’ Orgosis
- Whipplejack the Prankster Spirit
- Mad Princeling Eriahduin
- The Creeping Winds of Sapclaw Forest
- Filibuster the Entertainer
- The Gambler
- Monkey King (Sun Wukong)
- Who are The Others?
- This was explained by a balance of equations. On the one side was The Others. On the other was the Great Five. The PCs… well, there was debate where they lay.
- Who are The Great Five?
- In the adventurer’s headquarters there were a few names: Swiftshade, Baerheart, Guowei and the mage who wrote the diary entry. It was those four, and Quicksilver.
- Who is this?
- They showed the symbol they had found on their orders, and in the diary. The symbols translated as Quicksilver, presumably the Paladin who saved them right back at the start.
The Contemplatives eventually lead the PCs down another arm of the tomb. With impressive psychic ability, they formed a key out of nothing (or reassembled one, or fetched it from somewhere else). They opened the door for them.
The world beyond was night-time with a bright purple sky. The Contemplatives looked at them and said, “Don’t be afraid…” and the door slammed shut.
A looming green projection of a wizard had closed the door, laughing maniacally.
“WELCOME! TO MY WORLD! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
And we called it there.