Saturday, 13 May 2017

III.26: The Perilous Wilds

I forgot that, having made it to level 4, Nyseris now has access to level 3 cleric spells (due to God Amidst the Wastes.

Commune(Nyseris): Cure Moderate Wounds, Magic Weapon
Followers, Do Your Thing(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 2) +1 = 6 Failure!
Imra and Ievos are detected when trying to plant evidence on Taliesin. Let’s go with Front(The Chamber): Learn forbidden knowledge

The Chamber has seen what Anaya did in the Vunal di Gemuth (Vale of Eberron), and is alarmed at how fast events are proceeding.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(6 1) +3 = 10 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Who is really in control here? What here is not what it appears to be?

Jungle north of Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 20, 997 YK

They stayed in the Vale for two nights. Anaya had had much to discuss with the wise ones of the lizardfolk tribes, who spoke more about the legends and traditions of the tribes and their ancient bond with the jungle here. There was much in common with the faith of the Church of the Silver Flame, and it was evident, given the powers that Anaya, Nyseris and the wise one’s shared, that it was the same Flame that they worshipped. Anaya could only wonder that the Church in Flamekeep was, as far as she knew, entirely unaware of the lizardfolk and their common faith. She, in turn, had much to tell them of the work of the Church in the Five Nations to spread the worship of the Flame. The lizardfolk promised that they would welcome any of the Templars that came to Q’barra in future.

The faith of the lizardfolk seemed crude to Anaya, and she harboured a suspicion that the dragons that originally imparted the knowledge had regarded the lizardfolk merely as guardians of the jungle, not needing to know more about the higher meaning and nature of the Flame. But they had kept their faith for millennia, since long before humans came to this land, and Anaya had great respect for that.

On the third day they set out for Newthrone. Anaya was all too aware that their victory here was a temporary one; if House Tharashk continued their incursions, eventually it must mean war with the lizardfolk. Strong as the lizardfolk were, their strength would be taxed, and perhaps overdrawn, if they were forced to fight against Newthrone and Tharashk. Her mission now lay in Newthrone, and persuading the King to rein in operations that House Tharashk ran there.

One, oblique, answer to Anaya’s “Who’s really in control here?” is that she is. Heroes are meant to be big in Eberron, and we just made Anaya the most powerful cleric of the Flame alive. Let’s acknowledge that.

The journey south from the Vale of Eberron was hot and difficult, like all journeys through the jungle of Q’barra. Anaya was far from complaining, however; indeed she felt a determination of purpose beyond what she had ever felt before. While Anaya had always had a strong faith in the Flame, even before she learned to channel its power herself, speaking to one of the couatl that formed the Flame had revealed fully to her that which had previously been known only through the Church’s teachings. She saw that determination reflected in Esthana’s face, when she looked at her fellow Templar—together with something else, more like awe, that she could also understand. In the Church’s teachings, there was no instance of a Templar, or anyone else, talking with a couatl since Tira Miron herself, the Templar whose sacrifice had enabled the Church to be founded. The Flame only reveals itself directly when the greatest dangers—the Overlords—threaten us all.

Undertake a Perilous Journey(party):
Navigate(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 2) +2 = 5 Failure!
I rolled on the Perilous Wilds tables and got an arcane trap/effect (aspect: time), in plain sight. And I rolled for which front set the trap and got the Blackscales. We have established that they have a bunch of wizards. Front(Blackscales): Cast a spell over time and space
Scout(Nyseris): 2D6(4 6) +1 = 11 Success!
You get the drop on whatever lies ahead. You discern a beneficial aspect of the terrain.

Jungle north of Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 21, 997 YK

On the day after leaving the Vale, the Templars and Vaalyun were making their way along a trail through a less dense section of jungle. The trees here were older and higher, casting deep shadows across the jungle floor.

Vaalyun had been quiet for the past day, withdrawn in his own thoughts. As they crossed a small stream, he finally chose to speak.

“Things will be difficult when we get back to Newthrone, Templar.”

The elf was walking behind the Templars, and Anaya slowed her pace to fall back to him. “I do not doubt that—House Tharashk will use their influence to try to keep the dragonshard trade open.”

“They are not the only ones working against us. A few days before I left the capital, assassins attacked me openly in the street.”

“Assassins?” Anaya was shocked; Esthana, ahead of them, turned her head towards them with a look of surprise.

Vaalyun described the attack briefly, sticking to the facts. The elf could be very calm and quiet-spoken, Anaya thought, in contrast to the more flamboyant style that he used in his public dealings; but his composure was more surprising in the circumstances.

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(4 1) +1 = 6 Failure!

Reveal an Unwelcome Truth

“So the assassins were not from Tharashk—the bodyguards would not have fought for you if they were,” said Esthana.

“We are friends, Vaalyun,” said Anaya, “so I hope I may ask—is this certainly connected to our work here against House Tharashk and Masvirik? Your position in House Phiarlan may have made some enemies in the past, I suppose.”

“It is not my first assassination attempt, it is true,” the elf replied, as if it were merely another matter of business. “And I have heard of spellthievies being used as assassins in subterfuge between the Houses. But I do not know of anyone that wants me dead now, in this place. The effort of organising such a thing, at such a distance from the Five, does not seem fitting with the usual work of the other Houses. I think it relates to your mission, Templars. And, whoever opposes us, they are well resourced and willing to breach the peace of the city. You will be their target too, once we return.”

“If only there was some way to persuade House Tharashk of the righteousness of our cause,” said Anaya. “I wish them no ill will, and I feel sure that no-one of the Five would want to risk the release of an Overlord, knowing the consequences of their actions. But it is hard to convince those that are not Purified of the danger.”

“That reminds me,” said Vaalyun. He reached into his jacket, withdrawing a small leather-bound book from inside his jacket. “I found this in the Commander’s office in the Tharashk guildhouse. I had someone translate a few sections of it, but I do not really know what to make of it. It seems to be a cult of some kind though—the Gatekeepers—and you know more of religion than I do.”

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(2 4) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Vague information, up to the characters to make it useful

Anaya took the book from Vaalyun, opening it to a page filled with dense orcish script. “I have heard of the Gatekeepers, when I travelled in the west of Aundair many years ago. They are a druidic cult, as you say.”

Vaalyun gave her the gist of the parts that he had had translated: the tale of invasion from Xoriat, and how the Gatekeepers had sealed the evil below in Khyber. It sounded like a pale imitation of the story of the couatl to Anaya, and it was tempting to dismiss it as some corrupt heresy, but she had read of the legend, the so-called Daelkyr War, in a book on the history of Khorvaire. Much from that era was speculation, of course, but it was possible that there was some substance to these tales.

Investigate(Anaya): 2D6(5 5) +1 = 11 Success!

Once Vaalyun was done, she spoke up. “Whatever the truth of this legend, I find it hard to believe that any druidic cult would want the release of an Overlord.” The circle of arcane runes obscured by vines on the cover did not seem to her to contain any symbols of demons or Khyber. “I think we must speak to the Commander, and try to persuade him of our cause.”

Cast a Spell(Magical Weapon)(Nyseris): 2D6(3 5) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Lose the spell
Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(3 4) +3 = 10 Success!
What is about to happen here?
Who is really in control here?
What here is hidden?

Anaya felt a faint tug, a flicker in the Flame ever present in her conciousness. She looked ahead for Nyseris, trying to see the lizardfolk between the trees where they were scouting the path ahead. The lizardfolk had drawn on the Flame, Anaya realised—and that meant they had found trouble.

“What is it?” asked Esthana, glancing around.

As if in answer, they felt a slight rumbling in the earth beneath and around them. The ground sloped down to a river somewhere off through the trees to the west; looking down the slope, Anaya saw a patch of earth, perhaps eight feet across, bulge upwards and then break apart as a creature forced its way to the surface. From the continued rumbling around them, the cleric immediately knew that it was not alone.

The creature looked like a mixture of a serpent and a crab; standing six feet tall, its long slender body was supported on four insect-like legs. It turned towards them, swinging forearms that ended in huge pincers; they looked easily large enough to cut a man in two.

Volley(Anaya): 2D6(3 4) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Deal less damage: d6-d6=3-5 for 0 damage
Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 3) +2 = 11 Success!
Deal damage: 2d4=7, 3 after armour

Anaya already had an arrow out, and loosed a shot at the monstrosity; the arrow skipped harmlessly off of its thick carapace. “Keep moving forward! We must reach Nyseris.”

Vaalyun had a wand in his hand already, firing a bolt of energy that struck the carapace just behind the creature’s head. The shell blackened and cracked; and the creature recoiled slightly, letting out a shrill cry that seemed to drill into Anaya’s head.

Defend(Esthana): 2D6(6 3) +2 = 11 Success!
Divert attacks to self, hold 2
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(3 6) +3 = 12 Success!
Deals d10=1 damage, 2 piercing, reduced to nothing by armour

Spend hold(Esthana): Deal damage equal to level: 6, 4 after armour

The enraged creature leapt into motion, its gait switching easily between a forwards charge and a crab-like sideways scamper as it bounded around the trees towards them. It aimed first for Vaalyun but, as he followed Anaya, Esthana took the rear and turned to meet the creature’s charge. The creature tried to sieze her in one of its claws, but the Templar easily sidestepped the strike and drove her sword into the creature’s armpit; its left arm fell limp. Esthana made another strike, aiming a blow up under its head, but the blade caught on the edge of the capapace.

Volley(Anaya): 2D6(5 3) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Put yourself in harm’s way, deals 4 damage which is negated by armour

Anaya looked to her left as the ground there also burst upwards, as another of the creatures broke through onto the slope above them. It turned towards the group, and Anaya loosed another arrow, but the arrow just shattered on one of the creature’s pincers. The creature charged at once, thundering downhill at the cleric, too fast to evade.

Defend(Nyseris): 2D6(6 1) +1 = 8 Defend
Halve damage to target
Defy Danger(Str)(Anaya): 2D6(4 2) +0 = 6 Failure!
Deal Damage: d8+1=3 damage, 3 piercing, halved to 1
Defy Danger(Dex)(Anaya): 2D6(3 1) +1 = 5 Failure!
Put someone in a spot
Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 6) +2 = 12 Success!
Deals 2d4=6 damage, 2 after armour

The first chuul has 3/10 HP left.

Anaya drew her sword. She tried to parry its first blow, but the creature was far stronger than her and brushed the steel aside, crashing into the cleric and knocking her to the ground. It raised its other pincer for a downward strike, but then a bolt of silver light crashed intothe side of its head—if the shell-covered top of its body was a head—knocking it off balance momentarily. Rolling to one side, Anaya tried to get to her feet, but the creature over her recovered quickly; the wind was suddenly knocked out of her as a large claw struck her in the back, pushing her into the dirt.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(4 1) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Deals d10=4 damage, 2 piercing, so 2 damage after armour
Defend(Nyseris): 2D6(4 4) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Halve damage to target

Golden opportunity (Anaya is still pinned): Deal Damage: d8+1=3 damage.

Anaya is at 13/17HP; the chuul are at 8/10 and 3/10. The characters need urgently to deal with the threat to Anaya, or it will have the chance to do more damage.

Summon Living Dragonmark(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
Living shadow, 1HP, all basic moves with +1, +2 for strength
Defy Danger(Dex)(Anaya): 2D6(6 4) +1 = 11 Success!
You get away

Anaya struggled to rise, but the weight of the creature was pressing down on her. Her mail kept its claw from breaking her skin, but its weight was crushing her. She tried to twist, expecting the pincers to come down for the killing blow at any moment; but instead there was a sound of weapons clashing on shell above, and she felt the creature shift its weight. As it did so, Anaya twisted the other way; there was a sharp pain in her back where its weight bore down on her, but she was able to shift out from under it and scramble free.

Hack and Slash(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 2) +2 = 5 Failure!
Put someone in a spot: the creature ignores the shadow and goes for you
Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(3 4) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Put yourself in danger, deals d8+d4=6 damage, 2 after armour
Defy Danger(Str)(Vaalyun(shadow creature)): 2D6(2 4) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Deal Damage: d8+1=5 damage to Vaalyun, but is forced to release Vaalyun

HP: Vaalyun is at 10/15, Anaya at 13/17, chuul are at 1/10 and 8/10.

Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals 2d4=6 damage, 2 after armour

As she stood up, she saw that the first creature was still up, and had rounded on Vaalyun, grasping him around the waist in one of its pincers. As she watched, another bolt of light whistled past her, striking the creature with enough force to punch through its shell, causing the creature to let out another high shrill of pain. But she also saw a shadow, the shadow of an elf, holding on to the back of the creature with an arm around the creature’s neck as if to break it. The creature gave another high shrill that made the cleric wince; but it released Vaalyun himself, who fell to the ground. He extended his arm, still holding his wand, and fired a bolt up into the creature’s head; the head exploded, and several shards of already cracked carapace were thrown across the jungle floor. The huge beast fell to the ground, finally dead.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 2) +3 = 6 Failure!
Deal damage: d8+1=9 damage, ignoring 3 armour, for 8 messy damage to Esthana

Anaya’s response was written in at character creation: risk yourself to heal another.

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(5 3) +3 = 11 Success!
Heals d8+6=14 damage

A human cry of pain turned Anaya around, to see the second creature now holding Esthana in one of its pincers. Blood was running down the Templar’s breastplate, where the pincer had sheared into the plate and was cutting deeply into her armless shoulder. Anaya rushed in to help her friend, putting a hand on Esthana’s back and channelling the power and strength of the Flame into the Templar; she felt its purifying energy, stronger than ever, flow through the touch, and Esthana was surrounded by silver light.

Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 1) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Take what you can get: 2d4-d6 = 4 damage, negated by armour
Defy Danger(Cha)(Vaalyun(shadow)): 2D6(3 4) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Use up their resources: it slices up the shadow thing

Another bolt of arcane energy from Vaalyun flew past, ricocheting off of the creature’s carapace. Anaya hesitated, unsure how to make the creature release Esthana; and then the shadow elf flitted past her, rushing at and through the creature. The beast staggered as if struck, though it showed no injury; it dropped Esthana, and turned around to face the shadowy figure now standing behind it. Anaya quickly helped Esthana to her feet, as Vaalyun ran up to them.

“Nyseris is beset by another of these things, just off through the trees,” said the elf.

“Then we must get to them, now.” Anaya helped Esthana to her feet—the Templar was still shaken, though the bleeding had stopped and the wound had closed—and they began hurrying away from the creature. Glancing back, she saw the creature tearing at the shadow elf.

“My shadow summoning will only keep it busy for a few seconds,” said Vaalyun.

Let’s catchup with Nyseris’ fight.

Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals d8=6 damage, 2 after armour
Familiar Prey(Nyseris): 2D6(4 6) +1 = 11 Success!
You know all about them
Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals d8=7 damage, 3 after armour
Hack and Slash(Vaalyun(shadow)): 2D6(3 3) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Cannot do enough damage to harm the chuul, takes damage so is destroyed
Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals 2d4=4 damage, negated by armour
Volley(Anaya): 2D6(5 3) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Take what you can get; d6-d6=-3, no damage

They could see Nyseris through the trees now. The lizardfolk was standing beside a large stone obelisk, placed in a small clearing in the trees. They were fending off a third creature at spearpoint, trying to keep the thing at a distance and using the obelisk to stop it from swinging its pincers for a knockout blow. Vaalyun fired and Anaya loosed another arrow, but both bounced harmlessly off of the creature’s tough shell.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 1) +3 = 5 Failure!
Use up their resources

Esthana is having a bad fight, for once.

Esthana charged into the clearing, shouting “For the Flame!”. She levelled her sword at the beast, the silver fire running along the blade illuminating her as she moved into the shaded clearing. Her shout drew the creature’s attention however, and it turned on her; a sweeping blow with its pincer caught the Templar on the side of her lost shieldarm, the force of the blow knocking the sword from her hand and throwing her to the ground.

“What are these creatures?” shouted Anaya as she moved into the clearing.

Nyseris deals damage, as the creature’s back is turned. d8=2, ineffective against its armour.

“Chuul,” hissed Nyseris. The lizardfolk jabbed at the creature while its back was turned, but its tough carapace turned aside their spearpoint. “I have never seen them on the surface before, though.”

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(4 1) +3+1 = 9 Partial success.
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Defy Danger(Dex)(Esthana): 2D6(4 5) +3 = 12 Success!
You are able to get to your sword

Esthana rolled aside as the creature brought down its other pincer; its blow cut through several tree roots running through the dirt where she had lain. Rolling to her feet, the Templar dodged a strike from the creature’s other pincer, and ran out of its reach, grabbing her sword off of the ground as she did so.

Not on the surface? Moving into the shadow of a tree, Anaya drew on the power of the Flame, feeling her surroundings. Yes, there is something here—some malignant presence has brought these creatures here. If I can drive it back...

Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals 2d4=5, 1 damage after armour.
Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(4 6) +2 = 12 Success!
Deals d8+d4=7 damage, 3 after armour

The chuul are at 7 and 2 HP respectively.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(6 5) +3 = 14 Success!
Deals d10=10 damage, 6 after armour

“Here comes the other,” called Vaalyun; Anaya saw him fire another bolt as the second chuul burst into the clearing; there was a sharp cracking sound as part of its capapace cracked. Ignoring the elf, the creature joined the other in attacking Esthana, moving around to her side and then closing on the Templar. Esthana moved too quickly for it, though; she rolled under its charge, rolling between its legs and coming up behind it. Rather than attack the newcomer though, she lunged at the other, which had been blindsided by its companion’s charge. She stepped between its legs and drove her sword up into its soft underbelly; the creature let out a shrill death rattle and collapsed.

Cast a Spell(Sanctuary)(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +3+1 = 12 Success!

I am letting Anaya use this spell for a more powerful purpose than it would normally be used for—because the Blackscales are calling the chuul to this place with a spell cast from a hundred miles away, and so I have to give the party a way to stop it. Be a fan of the characters

Anaya heard, and felt, a familiar rumbling of earth behind her—more of the creatures were coming. Stepping out into the clearing, she called on the power of the Flame, and once again she felt its vast power flowing through her, as it had done back on the Vale. The clearing was filled with silver light as the Flame illuminated her, driving back the gloom of the jungle.

The remaining chuul in the clearing backed away, throwing its pincers up in front of its head to shield itself from the light. By the light of the Flame, Anaya could now see two more chuul between the trees to the east; they, two, were no longer advancing.

“Whatever brought you to this place, begone foul creatures,” she commanded. “The Flame guides us, and drives evil from our path.”

Whether the creatures understood her or not, they did not now seem to want a fight. The one in the clearing sidled away to join the others, and the group moved away, down towards the river.

“Chuul like the water normally,” said Nyseris. “Hopefully they will go to a nearby cave and stay there.”

“What brought them here, though?” asked Vaalyun.

Nyseris shook their head. Anaya said, “I sensed something, a malign force—a summoning spell which drew them here. I do not sense the caster nearby, however. If it is a distant spell, it will have cost them a great deal to cast. Hopefully it will take time before they can try again.”

“Then we should get moving, cleric,” said Vaalyun. The elf was holding one arm to his side, where the first chuul had seized him.

Cast a Spell(Cure Moderate Wounds)(Nyseris): 2D6(4 5) +1 = 10 Success!
Heals 12 HP

“Yes, but let me see to your wound first.” But before Anaya could move to help the elf, Nyseris had stepped up to him; with a touch, the fires of the Flame surrounded her, and Anaya saw the elf straighten as the healing fire flowed into him.

Moving to the lizardfolk’s side, Anaya put a hand on their arm. “Your strength with the Flame is growing, faster than I would have imagined. You are already stronger than most clerics trained in Flamekeep.” There was a hint of awe in Anaya’s voice; it still surprised her that the lizardfolk followed the same faith at all, but to have one that could channel the flame so strongly was amazing to her.

“I learn it from you, Anaya of the Flame,” said Nyseris. “I feel you draw on the power, and then I feel that I can do the same.”

Anaya nodded. “When this is all over, you must travel to Flamekeep with us; there are many there that would like to meet you.”

“My kind rarely travel beyond our own lands. But perhaps,” said Nyseris, smiling, “it is time that we did explore more distant places. Since their problems can come to us, we ought to know more of what lies beyond the mountains.”

Anaya’s invocation still lay upon the clearing, a faint silver light suffusing the air around them, casting shadows out into the jungle around them. With wary glances down the slope, the companions resumed their journey south.

End of Session(party):

Anaya: 2 failures, alignment goal; at 3XP.
Esthana: 3 failures, alignment goal; at 5XP.
Nyseris: 0 failures, alignment goal; at 2XP.
Vaalyun: 2 failures, session goal; at 2XP.

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