Wednesday, 5 July 2017

IV.31: Gateway to Khyber

Make Camp(party):
Commune(Anaya): Bless, Cure Light Wounds, Magic Weapon, Sanctuary, Darkness
Undertake a Perilous Journey(party): Once again, using this instead of Mythic
Scout Ahead(Nyseris): 2D6(3 6) +1 = 10 Success!
You get the drop on whatever lies ahead; You discern a beneficial aspect of the terrain
Navigate(Anaya): 2D6(5 3) +1 = 9 Partial success.
You encounter a Danger

Under eastern Q’barra, in Khyber
Lharvion 6, 997 YK

They had been underground for two days by the time they reached Khyber itself. Most of the descent was less treacherous than that initial climb down from the surface. For most of the first day they followed a dry tunnel and series of caverns carved out by an underground stream. Many of the more dangerous sections were made easier by more of the climbing fixtures that they found alone the way; these were left, they presumed, by the cultists that had created the map that had led them here. Even so, they all had plenty of scrapes and bruises after two days of this dangerous passage, and all of them were indebted to Nyseris’ quick reactions and keen eyes that prevented many accidents.

Show signs of an approaching threat

As they descended, the sense of evil that Anaya felt from below continued to grow in strength. At the surface it had merely been a taint, a scent of something wrong, but, as the party descended closer to Khyber itself, it became a constant presence around her. The others, it seemed, could not sense it at all; the enclosed space of the caves, the dirt and darkness, made it an unpleasant journey for them, but these were nothing to Anaya beside the growing sense of evil coming from deep below them.

They were at least well stocked, as they were all equipped for travel in the jungle, and Vaalyun had secured provisions from House Ghallanda before leaving Newthrone. The lack of firewood meant that they could not cook food at camp, but the caves were hot—relentlessly so, when away from water, making it a hard journey for the two Templars. Nyseris’ spear haft had been cracked by her fall into the fissure on the first day, and Anaya could sense the ranger’s frustration that there was no way to repair their weapon here. But they had plenty of food and water, and the Flame provided all the light and guidance that they could want for.

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(5 4) +1 = 10 Success!
Good information

On the third day, the path that they were following merged with a larger tunnel, which descended at a shallow enough angle that they could easily walk along it. A faint purple light suffused this section of tunnel, emanating from a small cluster of Khyber crystals that protruded from the side of the tunnel a little further down. It appeared that they were getting close to Khyber itself.

After two hours they arrived at the end of the tunnel. Even before reaching the end, they knew that something unusual lay ahead of them, as an eerie green light shone into the tunnel from the cavern beyond. With Nyseris leading the way, the group stepped out into the cavern.

Introduce an Element from Ages Past

The cavern was about a hundred yards across, roughly circular, and the rocky ceiling above looked normal enough. Their tunnel entered at a high point, with the floor sloping down to a shimmering green barrier that extended all the way across the cavern, completely covering the floor below. Through this barrier, they could see two more tunnels leading off from the lower section into other caves. Just above the barrier, carved into the rock at regular intervals, were arcane sigils of some kind, which glowed brightly with the same green light.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(3 4) +3 = 10 Success!
Who is really in control here?
What should I be on the lookout for?
What here is not what it appears to be?

While Esthana and Nyseris looked on in awe at this strange sight—and the first light, or sign of something more than just caves, that they had seen in days—Anaya turned to Vaalyun. “Vaalyun, that book that you recovered—can I see it again?”

“Of course. Are these symbols the same?” Vaalyun asked, handing over the book.

Anaya leafed through its pages until she found one bearing a circular inscription surrounded by arcane runes. “Yes, these are the same symbols. Whatever warding is inscribed here, it is as prescribed in this book. And the patterns do look druidic. Whoever placed this meant to keep out something unnatural.”

“Keep out?” asked Esthana.

“Keep below. Could it be the Overlord itself and its servants that they sought to seal down here?”

“We have travelled some distance,” said Vaalyun, looking around, “but we have a way to go before we reach the vicinity of Haka’torvhak. This might have been the most convenient choke point; perhaps this was the best place for a single barrier to prevent all access from below.”

“I think that this serves a different purpose,” said Anaya. “I sense nothing of the Flame in this warding, and the patterns mean nothing to me. I think I would be able to feel something more here, if this were attuned to fiends. I think this denies passage to something else.”

“Another type of evil?” asked Nyseris.

“The Overlords are the greatest danger in Eberron, but they are not the only danger.”

Anaya stepped forward, gingerly stepping past the edge of the barrier and putting a foot down on the rocky slope below it. There was no resistance, and no sensation from passing through it.

“We can pass through. Stay on the lookout, though; there may be more than demons ahead of us.”

Change the environment

They had now passed into the underworld realm of Khyber. Anaya had learned of it in her studies after joining the Church, but reading about such a place was still poor preparation for seeing it first hand; and to the others it was entirely alien. The cave system in which they found themselves was hot, a constant oppressive heat much beyond that of the jungle above. Magma flows emerged in places in the cavern walls and joined into a larger underground flow which ran through the principle caverns in this area. Large Khyber dragonshard crystals emerged from the rock in many places, providing an eerie purple illumination in most areas; Nyseris and Anaya had stopped calling on the Flame for light, as they had done in the caves nearer the surface, as they did not want to draw the attention of any creatures dwelling here.

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(5 4) +1 = 10 Success!
Good information

According to accounts of Templars that had made the descent, Khyber itself contained many such cave systems at different depths that were connected over greater distances by tunnels that formed a complex, and largely unmapped, mesh. Navigating the tunnels did not concern Anaya greatly, since the sense of evil ahead of her was so strong that the way forward was clear; and, if getting back might be more difficult, Anaya was less concerned by that than with completing the mission itself.

Nyseris led the way. Despite a lifetime spent in the jungles of Q’barra, the lizardfolk seemed unaffected by these strange environs, scouting ahead of them much as they had done on the surface. Anaya could see reflected in Esthana’s face the same unease that she herself felt in this dark place. Vaalyun kept to himself as usual, following the Templars and watching for dangers behind them.

After half an hour they found themselves in a long, low cavern bisected by the main magma flow. A dull red light from the magma contrasted with the purple light of the other caves, and there was a strong sulphurous odour in the air here. There were opening into other caves from above and to the sides in several places, some with their own tributary flows that joined the main magma river flowing through the central channel; the radiated heat from this made the party keep the edge of the cavern.

Give Nyseris the benefit of her scouting roll here.

Cast a Spell(Magic Weapon)(Nyseris): 2D6(1 5) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Lose the spell

Anaya had just turned from looking down a side tunnel when she saw Nyseris pause, turning their head as if to some inaudible sound. Nyseris pulled an arrow from their quiver, and the bow in their hands suddenly flared with silver light.

Anaya moved forward, speaking quietly. “Nyseris, what—”

Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(4 2) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Put yourself in danger; deals d8+d4=4 damage, negated by armour

Make a move that follows: we hinted at the Lord of Eyes as a Xoriat entity back in Starilaskur, and now we are in territory with Xorian enemies. So it makes sense to use everyone’s favourite eye aberration.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(4 2) +2 = 8 Partial success.
You dodge but you are still close enough to be in the antimagic field that’s about to hit. Use up their resources: Magic Weapon is dispelled.

Something large floated down through an opening in the roof of the cavern on the far side of the magma flow. Nyseris loosed her arrow, and as Anaya looked to the creature the streak of silver light hit the floating, fleshy orb, though it seemed to have little effect. The creature turned, and suddenly multiple rays of dark energy streaked from it across the chamber.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Anaya): 2D6(6 6) +1 = 13 Success!
Random Disintegration beam misses you
Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(6 3) +3 = 12 Success!
Random Death ray misses you

Vaalyun is easy to miss, probably went still when Nyseris hesitated. But the creature is Terrifying too, so...

Defy Danger(WIS)(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 1) +1 = 6 Failure!
Use up their resources: Vaalyun is out of action until someone aids him, or he makes another roll to overcome the fear

And Anaya will immediately realise that she is in an antimagic cone.

Everyone scattered. Nyseris threw herself forwards, rolling to their feet standing closer to the magma and reaching for another arrow, the silver light from their bow lost. Esthana sidestepped a beam that seemed to suck the light out the air around it. Anaya threw herself to one side as a beam of grey light shot at where she was standing; the rock face behind where she had stood seemed to instantly vapourise, leaving a foot-deep crater in its surface. Alarmed, Anaya tried to draw on the power of the Flame, but suddenly she realised that the Flame that she always felt within herself was missing—its power was not there.

Familiar Prey(Nyseris): 2D6(6 1) +1 = 8 Partial success.
She knows what it is, but not how to fight one.

The creature itself was a floating orb of flesh, with one large mouth and a large eye set above it. From it protruded a number of short stalks, each ending in a smaller bulbous orb containing a smaller eye; the beams of energy that it emitted seemed to come from these eyes.

Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(4 3) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Put yourself in danger; deals d8=6 damage, 2 after armour.

The creature is at 18/20HP.

Really there’s no downside to putting yourself in danger here, since everyone active in the fight is going to be shot at by eye beams all the time anyway.

Defy Danger(Nyseris): 2D6(4 5) +2 = 11 Success!
Dodged again

“Beholder!” cried Nyseris. They loosed another arrow—now without any magic enchantment to boost it—and it struck home, provoking a hiss of pain from the creature. The lizardfolk then had to immediately dodge to the side as it directed another beam of grey light in their direction.

Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment: one-armed Esthana has no ranged weapons, and the creature is on the far side of the magma.

Seeing Red(Esthana): 2D6(6 1) +1+1 = 9 Partial success.
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Bend Bars, Lift Gates(Esthana): 2D6(3 3) +1+1 = 8 Partial success.
It doesn’t take a very long time; nothing of value is damaged (so you don’t bring the roof down)

Esthana had her sword drawn, but the magma flow lay between her and the creature, and she could not use a bow. There were thin columns of stone in places that ran between the floor and ceiling of the cavern; squaring up to one of these columns, Esthana let out a cry and charged, slamming into the column with all her strength. It cracked loose from the ceiling and toppled into the lava.

Aid(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Expose yourself to danger
Defy Danger(DEX)(Anaya): 2D6(1 1) +1 = 3 Failure!
Double ones, hit by a Random Death beam
Defy Danger(CON)(Anaya): 2D6(5 1) +0 = 6 Failure!
Not resolving

Okay, whoa there. Anaya dying would be a pretty big blow to the story and the party. So I’m going to let Nyseris roll Aid here.

Aid(Nyseris): 2D6(1 6) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Expose yourself to danger
Defy Danger(CON)(Anaya): 2D6(5 1) +0+1 = 7 Partial success.
Anaya is Sick; -1 Con ongoing.

Anaya looked back for Vaalyun, and saw the elf sheltering in the entrance to a side tunnel. “Vaalyun, help us!” she shouted. She turned back towards the creature just in time to see one of its eyes looking directly at her. A beam of black energy shot forward, hitting her in the chest, and she blacked out.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(4 1) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Separate them

Esthana jumped onto the column that now bridged the magma. The creature turned several of its eyes towards her, but she ducked and ran forward as fast as she could. A bolt of fire shot past her, scorching the cavern floor behind her, and she jumped over a beam of blue light that seemed to grab hold of the air behind her, pulling the column off of the magma and tossing it across the chamber towards the others. Esthana jumped as the column was torn from beneath her feet, landing on the far side only ten feet from the floating monstrosity.

The creature doesn’t have a melee weapon apart from its teeth, and it doesn’t use that yet—it is facing Anaya and Nyseris to suppress their magic. So no Hack and Slash is triggered here; Esthana deals d10=7 damage, 5 after armour.

The monster is at 13/20 HP.

Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 6) +2 = 14 Success!
Blinds the death ray eye

I am using an option given in one of the alternate templates for this monster in the Dungeon World codex, which allows successful attacks to blind particular eyes. That death ray eye has scared Vaalyun, and he wants it out of action.

She drew her sword, its silver light flooding the cavern, and slashed at the creature. The creature had no body, arms or hands, no weapon to defend itself, and she cutting a deep gash in its exposed side. It screamed in pain, the unnatural cry echoing through the caves. Several eye stalks on this side of the creature turned to her, but a bolt of arcane energy from across the cavern struck one of them, exploding the eyeball before it could focus. Circling around behind the creature, Esthana saw that it was Vaalyun, wand in hand, harassing the creature from the far side of the cavern.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(3 4) +3 = 10 Success!
You are fine.
Seeing Red(Esthana): 2D6(5 4) +1+1 = 11 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me?
What should I be on the lookout for?
What is about to happen?

Look out for lots of eyes all trying to target you, or for it flying up out of reach; it is turning towards you; turning the creature away from your friends takes the pressure off of them.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +3+1 = 8 Partial success.
Deal damage d10=5, 3 after armour

“Rujat auga, karanzol,” the creature hissed in some unknown tongue, as it turned to face her.

With its many eye stalks trying to target her. Esthana ducked directly under the creature, as beams of fire and green and purple light struck the ground where she had been standing. She stabbed up into the underside of the creature, causing another serious wound. Several of the creature’s eyes lowered themselves to look at her, and she dodged away again, rolling behind the creature before the eyes could focus on her.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 3) +2 = 6 Failure!
Random Telekenesis, Put someone in a spot: tosses Vaalyun across the cavern to land on the same side of the magma as Esthana and the beholder. Deal damage 2d10k1 = 5 damage, 4 after armour

Vaalyun is at 11/15 HP. The beholder is at 10/20HP. Anaya is back up at this point, and magic is available to her and Nyseris for now.

Volley(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 6) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Put yourself in danger
Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 5) +2 = 11 Success!
Okay, you dodge the Random petrification ray
Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(2 4) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Too busy dodging to take a shot right now.
Defy Danger(DEX)(Anaya): 2D6(3 6) +1 = 10 Success!

There was a shout of alarm, and suddenly Vaalyun crashed into the cavern wall just twenty feet to her left; a blue beam from one of the creature’s eyes following his flight. Winded, the elf nevertheless raised his arm and fired another bolt from his wand, searing the side of the creature’s head, and then rolled aside just before a grey beam of light struck where he had lain.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 4) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Deal damage d10=9, 7 after armour; takes 2d10k1=8 damage, 4 after armour.
Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(6 1) +3 = 10 Success!
Dodge eye rays

Beholder is at 2/10 HP. The party is in good shape, actually; they have hardly failed any saves.

Esthana moved in to strike again, but this time the creature surprised her by lunging forward, latching its massive jaws around her injured shoulder. She felt the massive force compressing her breastplate and pauldron, and sharp pain as several of the creature’s teeth punctured the plate mail. She carried through her own attack though, driving her sword deep into the creature’s side. It released its grip, screaming in pain, green blood pouring from the wound and pooling on the stone floor beneath it. Its eyes flailed wildly, shooting beams of many colours in front of it to drive back its attacker; Esthana stepped back and began to circle around for another attack.

Volley(Anaya): 2D6(4 6) +1 = 11 Success!
Deals 5 damage, would be 1 after armour, but I’ll choose to take out the disintegration ray instead; Anaya has seen enough of that.
Defy Danger(WIS)(Nyseris): 2D6(6 5) +1 = 12 Success!
Not terrified
Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
Deals 2 damage, negated by armour.

It’s not over yet.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 1) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Too busy dodging a Random paralysing ray to fire

+1 as her discern realities foresaw that the creature would try to float out of reach.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(2 4) +3+1 = 10 Success!
You get it. Deals d10=9 damage, 7 after armour.

I would have had Esthana grab one of its eye stalks and bring it down that way, but she is one-armed and shouldn’t drop her sword. Less cool finishing move instead, then.

The creature was being harassed by arrows from Anaya and Nyseris on the far side of the cavern again now; one arrow popped another of the eyeballs that was flailing a dark ray of energy towards Esthana, and another sunk into the back of the creature. The creature turned its face upwards, looking back towards the tunnel down which it had originally entered; all the while, its other eyes continued to shoot out rays of deadly energy; Vaalyun was forced to duck into a side tunnel to avoid several rays directed his way. Esthana charged towards the creature and, as it began to float up towards its exit, she jumped and slashed at the creature’s underside, her sword cutting deeply into its flesh. Hot green blood splattered her helmet, and she staggered back.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Estana): 2D6(6 5) +3 = 14 Success!
You are fine

The creature swayed in the air, and let out a long scream, lower in pitch than before, as it sagged lower. Its eyes flailed wildly now, posing little danger to those further away, but Esthana had to dance backwards to avoid a beam of fire that cut through where she had been standing. The creature lurched and landed on the rock only a foot from the magma flow; immediately there were sounds of spitting and burning, as its blood began to boil and its flesh burned. The monster’s vast bulk sizzled like a frying egg on the stone floor; the eye stalks went limp, and the central eyelid dropped to be half-closed. The smell of burned flesh filled the cavern.

“Is everyone alright?” asked Esthana. Nyseris and Anaya nodded, though Anaya looked shaken by the encounter. Esthana turned to Vaalyun, who was limping a little as he emerged back into the cavern.

“I will be alright,” the elf said.

The magma flow had carved a deep channel at the far end of the chamber, and by scrambling up the sloping side of the cavern there, Esthana and Vaalyun were able to cross back over the magma and rejoin the others.

“I have heard of beholders, but never thought to see one,” said Anaya. “I suppose that is what the druidic cult sought to keep at bay with their warding.”

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 5) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Vague information

He does not connect this with the lord-of-eyes stuff from chapter 8.

“Their book spoke of Xorian aberrations, and I have heard it said that beholders come from Xoriat,” said Vaalyun grimaced. “Their writings appear to be truthful. I suppose we can be glad that the Church is not the only group seeking to keep evil creatures from the surface of Eberron.”

“Hopefully we will not encounter any more of these aberrations,” said Nyseris. “We should press–s on.”

They turned and set off again, passing through an opening into a further cavern.

Anaya is weak and we need to declare that in the fiction too.

It was apparent immediately to Esthana that Anaya was struggling to keep pace now; the light of the Flame from the cleric’s holy symbol was undimmed, but she herself slowed at any upward slope.

“Are you alright, Anaya?” asked Esthana.

Anaya shook her head. “Whatever that beholder hit me with, it drained me greatly. I passed out, and it is fortunate that Nyseris was there to revive me. I am a little weak, but we can go on—we must go on.”

Esthana watched her friend with concern; but there was nothing to be done about it here. “Let us know if you need to rest.”

End of session(party): We defeated a notable enemy, +1 XP to all; Nyseris, Esthana and Anaya all met their alignment goals.

Anaya: 1 failure, alignment goal; at 15XP. Level up!
Esthana: 0 failures, alignment goal; at 13XP. Level up!
Nyseris: 0 failures, alignment goal; at 11XP. Level up!
Vaalyun: 2 failures; at 11XP.

Level Up(Anaya): +1 Cha; multiclass move A Little Help From My Friends: when successfully aiding an ally, also take +1 forward.
Level Up(Nyseris): +1 Con; Blot out the Sun: deal damage to multiple targets when volleying by using more ammunition.
Level Up(Esthana): +1 Wis; Superior Warrior: on a 12+ on Hack and Slash, dismay the enemy.
Make Camp(party): Everyone back to full health

The party took relatively little harm there, as—apart from Anaya’s back to back failures—they largely succeeded on their dexterity saves and let Esthana do the dangerous stuff. The party was particularly strong against this enemy, because everyone has at least a +2 Dex modifier.

Vaalyun needs just one more XP to level up, and it would be helpful if he made it to level 7 before the grand final scene that we are building towards. It’s not essential, but it will fit better if he can take the Draconic Prophecy move before we get there.

Commune(Anaya): Bless, Cure Light Wounds, Darkness, Hold Person
Commune(Nyseris): Cure Moderate Wounds, Magic Weapon, Cause Fear

No comments:

Post a Comment