Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pahvelorn - These Ziggurats Contain no Gold, Only Death!



The band hadn’t had a good score since Illum Zugot where the priest king had been willing to pay to have the ancient barrows around his city cleansed, and the barrows themselves had been full  of wealth. Still it was again into the pit of Pahvelorn, an giant chasm, ripped from the earth.
The adventurers had already come down though the buried city, dispatched an incompetent necromancer, who’d been more irksome than dangerous, and entered one of the stone barrows beneath the city.  Three stone sentries containing buried magicians and unspeakable guardians.  They’d imagined this one would be better than the first which had cost the party it’s most puissant wizard, Beni Profane's a kindred spirit amongst the pious clerics and sinister warlocks that made up the group.  Satyvati, an easygoing hedonist was an easygoing hedonist, like Beni, but had been pulped by a stone guardian statute standing watch over the desiccated remains of some kind of trapped sorcerer form bygone ages.
Statuary had tried that previously on this delve as well, but luckily the party's strong arms were up to the challenge and two stone warriors had been pounded to fragments before they could do much harm.  In a room beyond the statute, beautiful murals on a rather punitive religious theme dominated.  The paintings were well done, but Beni didn’t appreciate them, both because they were antithetical to his own animism, and because the frescos were firmly attached to the wall.  Ten minutes of careful work only removed the figure of one saint, which despite it’s beauty really did not make up for the risk of animated statuary. 

Big Ants

 Beyond murals the room contained rack upon rack of ceramic ant statues, about four feet long, with brutal brass beaks, but seemingly worthless.  Pushing on in disgust about the lack of gold, jewels and platinum encrusted golden jewels Beni and his companions moved towards the pair of ebony double doors at the end of the hall.  The hall leading towards the doors was lined with funerary urns, one spilling ash onto the floor.  While the party dithered, Tarvis the brave cleric strode forward and the floor promptly snapped open.  Tarvis’s cries of pain indicated that the fall hadn’t killed him and the party helped the cleric up from a ten by twenty foot pit filled with jagged angled spikes.  Tarvis was no alone in the pit, and the robed skeleton within was looted for a large gold cross, a dagger and a book. 

Stepping forward the party skirted the pit and swung open the double doors to interrupt a sorcerous ritual.  A robed figure before an altar bespangled with chained captives and all a library of hefty tomes decorated the scene.  The scene was too much for Beni and he fled out to the crystal forest hearing Ogam the balding warlock’s attempt to parley answered with a roar from the robed sorcerer.

When Beni collected himself and returned the melee was in full swing, the robed figure proved to be a skeleton, and the bound captives a pack of crawled corpses scuttling on the floor like rats.  Druna the fighter hacked at the skittering ghouls, while Tarvis the crusader and his man at arms carved away at the mummified sorcerer. 

With a shout Beni ordered his war terrier Treacle forward, but the hound couldn’t get a solid bite in.  A rain of flaming oil bombs reduced the wizard to ashes quickly enough however, and Tarvis the Crusader’s holy might threw the hissing undead mass backwards, where Beni was able to shoot each through the skull with several bodkin arrows.  It took three or four heavy arrows each to stop the undeads’ twitching, but once the task was done the room was searched.  The library proved to be worthless mock books made of paper mache and no other valuable were located.  This tomb was looking to be another total waste of time and blood.

As the band searched though a noise of clicking and shuffling began beyond the doors.
Seven of the ceramic ants moved into the trapped room and with a rhythmic tapping caused the trap to reset. The adventurers were happy to ignore the insect automatons until they closed the doors, which resisted opening due to some  sort of sticky caulking the ants applied.  While Drunna and his henchman Sander pushed the doors back with limited success, Beni and his dog leapt the across the pit and tried to help others across.   The wizards jumped next, but both lacked the rat chatcher's nimbleness.  Beni was able to grab the child sorceress Eriana, but Ogam plunged into the spiked pit with a wail.

As Eriana removed the valuables from Ogam's impaled corpse, Tarvis and Darulin, his long suffering henchmen, leapt, each attempting to kick an ant into the pit.  Darulin succeeded, and the ant automaton shattered below, while Tarvis failed but manged to grab the pit's edge as he almost fell in. Drunna and Sander followed, but the ex-bandit henchman's armor proved too heavy, and he also fell into the open floor, and was impaled on a rack of spikes.  It was then that the ants turned, and one slashed Beni with it's bronze beak.  Surrounded by ants Beni took several nasty slashes, but manged to cut an ant down, with the ferocious aid of Treacle the dog, before dashing to safety.  In the melee that followed Tarvis levered himself from the pit, and he, Darulin and Treacle smashed the remaing ants.  The battle was bloody though, and in addition to Beni's wounds, Treacle and Tarvis were also both injured.  Afterwards a pair of large gems were recovered from the blood splattered ants, but there weren't adequate recompense for a wizard and skilled fighter.  

The remaining chamber in the ziggurat was explored, but found to contain only a wraithlike figure at a pottery wheel, additional murals and a large amount of unformed clay. When the figure refused to answer Beni's hails the party quickly decamped to lick thier wounds in Zorfath and plot a new course for adventure that will not involve the crystal forest beneath Pahvelorn's buried city.  Beni's reflections that the entire delve amounted to an ignominious situation, a couple of gems, some wizarding junk, two dead upright men, and his own body covered in bloody scratches were enough waste and sorrow to make a man consider return to the honest trade of shouting “Stand and Deliver” at random travelers. This shine is off plundering ancient tombs, most defiantly, but mercenary work is for suicidal chumps and smuggling requires capital.

BENI'S DIGEST OF THE BEASTS OF LOWER PAHVELORN:

A) Sand Rabbits - Harmless little varmints, like treacherous groundhogs.   They have a thick coat of beige fur to blend into the beige sand of the crystal forest and seem benign.  They might be good eating, but we haven't bothered to catch any.  They appear to live in burrows.

B) Crystal Wyrm - A furred snake of prodigious size that preys on sand rabbits, and is willing to attack man sized creatures without pause.  At least ten feet long and covered in a lovely beige pelage, it attacks by bursting through the sand and devouring its prey with a big grinding maw.  Utterly lacking in eyes or other features the Crystal Wyrm is still a dangerous opponent and can take a fair number of arrows before dying, though it becomes far less deadly if its presence is known.

C) Guardian Statutes - Big and small, these animate stone guardians seem to have been carved into the shape of warriors and animate when anyone interferes with the stone ziggurats.  They attack with stone weapons and are quite capable of reducing a man's skull to pulp with a single blow. Perhaps the least interesting of the creatures encountered under Pahvelorn's buried city, they right of sanctimony.

D) Submarine Sludge - A terrible monster of unknown origin, its gray acidic surface mimics the appearance of a stone floor and it hides underwater.  It seems to eat both metal and flesh, rapidly dissolving either when it's water is disturbed, but ignoring other materials such as wood.  It's unclear how to hurt the big puddle of ooze.  Burning the surface of the water does nothing, hacking at it may have some effect, but seems a waste of weapons, and quicklime may work, but the size of the sludge precluded further attempts.

E) Mummified Sorcerer - Victim or monster, it's unclear.  This individual wasn't especially talkative, but he was well protected by magic and could still cast spells.  Fire seems an effective solution.

F) Scuttling Ghouls - Don't be tricked by these things almost life like appearance, they're cannibal monsters with ragged filthy claws.  They scuttle about, rat like, biting and slashing and their can freeze a man with disgust.

G) Ceramic Ants - 4ft long and made of solid clay shells filled with brass machinery. The ants seem to maintain the ziggurats, resetting traps and making simple repairs, unfortunately they also attack intruders who try to interfere in their duties. They're dangerous, hardly, well protected by thick ceramic shells and peck with wicked bronze beaks.   They seem to travel in groups of seven, and at least one such group now roams the crystal forest.

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