The Overthrow

39 - Running The Gauntlet
  • Volterra stayed at the top with Jacek
  • Slide trap
  • Well of Blades – spider tried to abduct Daechir, Lital fell in the hole
  • Daechir started performing a ritual to use Death’s Gauntlet hands to help climbing, but everyone
  • Everyone noticed a hydra head popping out of the filth before it disappeared under the surface again
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38 - Further Underground Activities
  • Jacek came to, feeling a pain in his chest, which subsided
  • Daechir started poking around at the caskets, opening one up to reveal a ghoul, whose keening woke several other ghouls, which you then killed. In the tatty rags and discarded gnawed bones in the caskets, you found some Spectral Armour and gave it to Vallessa
  • You then headed down a steep ramp with sheer drops on either side; ahead you could see some bugbears and hobgoblins spear-fishing off the bridge over the massive chthonic maw, but you took a left turn towards a soft golden light
  • You found the facade of a nice villa, which Volterra said was from about the 7th Age, whose gates had been blown open by a fireball or similar. There was a huge statue of a gold dragon, with deep black eyes that sucked in light, especially magical light. The inscription around the base talked about the Great Gold Wyrm greeting the dawn of a new age, so eventually you rotated the statue until it faced east and unlocked a large stone trapdoor behind the statue, revealing loads of gold and a Hero’s Shield (which no one wanted but you took anyway)
  • Volterra used her Gloves of Adhesion and tomb-raiding skills to sneak under the narrow bridge and attack the hobgoblin warmage from behind, while the rest of you attacked the bugbears head-on (limited by only being able to get two people side-by-side on the bridge at a time). The fight was over pretty quickly but Volterra got knocked off by the hobgoblin’s dying spell – just managing to jump back on by some clever use of her magic boots!
  • Across the bridge you came into a square room where two large statues flanked an obviously-blank section of wall where you might otherwise have expected a door to be. After a fair while searching for secret doors, traps, etc the blank area turned into a large stone face and introduced itself as The Doorkeeper, “Custodian of the Maw”
  • It was curious about what was going on on the surface, and happy to chat for a while. It explained that the dungeon you were in hated being called the Stone Thief, and that it had a “cult” that called her The Devourer. Apparently said cult have a ritual that calls out to her to visit a location on the surface and, well, devour it – which she needs because the Queen of Shadows stole her eyes! That’s also why the Custodians are there, so The Doorkeeper didn’t seem wildly enthusiastic about the idea of her getting her eyes back.
  • Eventually The Doorkeeper explained that there were two ways out of this level – either to get “swallowed” and fall into The Gizzard directly, likely getting crushed by swallowed buildings, or to answer The Doorkeeper’s riddle and, if successful, go through a door into The Gauntlet which is incredibly dangerous and eventually leads to The Gizzard, but doesn’t involve getting swallowed to do so. It also alluded to other “upper levels” of the dungeon, such as The Ossuary, run by The Flesh Tailor, and The Sunken Sea (which Jacek was especially excited by)
  • However, if you got the riddle wrong, The Doorkeeper would be obliged to start vomiting up monsters until you died or left. It was very apologetic about this!
  • It asked the riddle, and Volterra guessed at an answer, which reminded Jacek of having heard this riddle before in thief-haunts in Axis, confirming Volterra’s answer as correct.
  • Just as The Doorkeeper opened its mouth wide to reveal the way forward, Jacek collapsed, clutching at his chest in pain…
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37 - Into The Maw
  • Volterra identified whatever the hell this (pictured) is as something cthonian in a strict literal sense

themaw.jpg

  • Wanting to rescue/interrogate the two former Imperial Legionnaires, Lital encouraged you all to head in there. She and Vallessa opted to jump in, surfing down the tide of earth and rubble on a building, while Volterra, Daechir and a strangely-dazed Jacek used a door halfway into the wall…
  • Lital and Vallessa noticed they were approaching some angry-looking orcs, who were throwing spears and loosing arrows as villagers caught in the “tide”. Despite some heroic efforts, both of them were soon dropped and pincushioned with arrows and spears; it was only thanks to the regenerative intervention of the High Druid that they weren’t captured or killed!
  • Meanwhile, the others entered a room with six glass-like pillars full of inky blackness, and a gargoyle holding a silver key which looked to be the way into the one exit from the room. Naturally, Volterra tried to take the key out of the gargoyle’s hand, but it came to life and attacked, as did the two wraiths lurking in the glass tubes.
  • Once the enemies were vanquished, Volterra noticed an ancient map on the ceiling – showing Omen as a thriving metropolis, and a large city in what is now the Kneedeep
  • Vallessa and Lital climbed back up and met back up with everyone else in that room, and Lital found a discarded still-warm human face, of someone you’d seen in the village…
  • Behind the locked door was a tunnel that is a very different in architectural style – at dwarf height, leading to a room full of rusted and broken pipes and ruins of some machine. Three goblins were arguing over loot in the corner, but fled through tiny tunnels, so you pressed on into the next room, which had several stone caskets in…
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36 - Bank Holiday Throwdown
  • Wandering through the forest, stopped by shimmery haze in forest. It’s a druid-magic barrier, which you take down with necromancy. The barrier was protecting a cute pond with pixies and animals and such and they took umbrage at being interrupted. Vallessa noticed a tar pit on the other side (which served as a hot spring/sauna thing) so she fired arrows and Lital kicked rocks so the animals were covered in tar and generally upset. Moving the tar pit disturbed some salamanders (poisonous beasts that bask in tar) who quickly froze.
    • Canonical: druid magic and necromancy are metaphysically opposite to one another!
  • Walking through the sparser trees towards the hills, everyone got an uneasy feeling that they were been watched, and Volterra caught the strain of a fretted instrument of some kind, and shadows tracking you in the trees. The shadows were a bunch of wood elves who had been stalking you through the trees since you trashed their “pixie party”, revealing their leader to be Llandu Whisperleaf, a Druid with human sympathies, who Vallessa killed with an arrow to the eye, scattering Whisperleaf’s buddies.
  • Moving on, you were ambushed by tree-spiders, terrifying Jacek who fled into a sticky web. and dragged off. A chase ensued, Jacek was rescued, and you found yourself looking at the hill.
  • A row occurred over whether you were heroes or villains, with Volterra notably quiet, Jacek trying to rationalise his behaviour and destiny and be a hero, and the other three entirely clear that they’re villains. Jacek grumpily started looking at the Dragon Claw Gauntlet and fondly reminiscing about Koldar.
  • Went into the cave, where they met Tianthe Vang, a dark-skinned human sorceress-turned-druid by something called the Ritual Of Taking – she was quite up-front about having murdered Kalen to steal his (delicious, delicious) soul and druidic power.
  • Most of the party seemed to get on with her, aside from Jacek who struggled with his conscience over the fact that her squad of vampire gnomes were actively intending to feed on the villagers.
  • You tried to recruit her, but she was clear that she already had a master, whom she called Vooram, although she was reluctant to reveal any further details. In the end you decided to leave before Jacek’s conscience caused any interpersonal difficulties.
  • After a long discussion about where to go next, Lital emotionally manipulated Vallessa into going back to Thorn so she could talk to the two Imperial Legionnaires, but first you collectively decided to deal with Golthrash
  • En route, you intimidated a series of fairly rubbish kobolds who looked like they might try and mug you into running away
  • When you reached the large hill in which Golthrash and her Vipers made their nest, you spent some time outside arguing/chatting while Volterra and Lital searched fruitlessly for secret caves behind the waterfall
  • Going through the main entrance, you found kobolds waiting to ambush you – a mix of Ledgedivers, using ropes strung from the ceiling to make swooping attacks and drop nets on you, and Bravescales using legion-like tactics with their spears and shields to block your passage. You made swift progress through them, with some gymnastic feats from Volterra and terrain stunts from Vallessa
  • Further up the inside of the hill you were caught between a black dragonic sorcerer with three Blackshield dragonic minions at the top of a steep ramp, while being ambushed from left and right by kobold shadow-warriors. There were a lot of pretty ropey moments during the fight and Daechir used his Litany of Undying Peerage to call on Grumlak the Baron of Makeshift Tombs when casting Circle of Death.
  • Once you’d dealt with all of that, you headed even further up the cave network within the hill, until you reached the wellspring/pools at the top – within which Lital knew the dragon Goltrash kept her hoard. Aside from a small amount of daylight coming in from the place where the spring left the cave and became the waterfall, the place was pitch dark.
  • Not impressed by the fact that you’d killed most of her gang, Golthrash attacked quickly, diving into the water and spraying you all with her acid breath. Vallessa and Lital jumped onto her head, with Lital using her magic boots to dig in and hang on. The dragon dived into the deep, murky, faintly-acidic water and the battle raged on, with the acid eventually knocking Vallessa out of the fight so she surfaced before passing out. Underwater, Lital struck the killing blow against Golthrash.
  • Meanwhile, on the surface, Jacek, Daechir, Volterra and Buffy (Vallessa’s bullette companion) battled with the rest of the Vipers – a dragonic assassin, a dragonic sorcerer, and more kobold shadow-warriors. Daechir’s shadow somehow saved him from a forcebolt from the sorcerer, and things were looking somewhat bleak (mainly thanks to the shadow-warriors and Lital’s indiscriminate berserker fury inspired She Who Is War!) until Volterra used her relationship with the Three to call a brief truce, during which you negotiated with the remaining sorcerer and five shadow-warriors.
  • Eventually you agreed to leave these remaining Vipers alive, in exchange for taking all their stuff (which you duly did). You then left the cave, whereupon you had another argument about where to go next – Vallessa keen to avoid Thorn, Jacek wanted to go to Shadow Port (or anywhere coastal, really), and Lital still set on returning to Thorn to interrogate those two ex-Legionnaires about whether they knew anything about her village’s destruction.
  • You eventually set off towards Thorn. From about a mile away, you felt the earth shake and heard screams. A giant, whirling maw of stone had opened up beneath the village and was sucking all the buildings – and people! – into it, including Moira and the two Legionnaires. The maw seemed to be swallowing rather than chewing, as it were, and you noticed a potentially-safe way to climb down into the living dungeon…
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35 - CSI Thorn
  • Heading out into the woods, you followed Moira’s directions to the foresters’ encampment. They were sniffing the air as you got there, but thanks to Lital’s relationship with the High Druid you were able to start a conversation.
  • All of the foresters were male half-orcs (they were kind of embarrassed/defensive about all being male), and led by Pogral. He said he had seen Kalen a couple of nights before, and admitted to making the death threats, but said he hadn’t acted on them.
  • You were interrupted by an angry mob arriving from the village. Despite Daechir’s concerns that they were here for him, most of them didn’t really know who he was – they were here for Pogral and his foresters, whom they blamed for Kalen’s death
  • A bloody fight ensued, in which you sided with the half-orcs (who turned out to be werewolves!) against the foresters, killing all fifteen or so of them except one, upon whom Lital used her Helm of Infamy to instill terror
    • Lital recognised their leader a former Imperial Legionnaire, as one of the people who attacked and destroyed her village when she was young. She killed him, leaving her with several unanswered questions, but learnt that the Legionnaire had two former comrades back at the village too
  • After the fight, Kalen’s apprentice Silverleaf (a wood elf) appeared and exonerated the half-orc werewolves. She hadn’t realised that her mentor had been killed, but as she’d been watching the werewolves for the last few weeks she was sure they hadn’t been involved.
  • Based on the additional information, she worked out that the most likely culprit was a woman named Tianthe, who lived in a cave with a small group of gnomes.
  • You decided to go and find Tianthe to satisfy Jacek’s promise to Moira, and set off through the forest
  • The forest was generally fairly wild but pleasant, until you got to an area that had clearly been devastated somewhat, with trees knocked over and so on – Buffy’s increasing distress was soon explained when a green bullette and her calves burst out from the ground and attacked, before you were also attacked by a hunting manticore (wearing a very expensive Imperial medallion)
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34 - The Road To Thorn
  • After cleaning up and dusting yourself off following your battle with the warbanner and its minions, you carried on upriver, and saw signs of a small town or village up ahead.
  • However, Jacek spotted various traps up ahead, which indicated an ambush. Sure enough, you were attacked by five kobolds, who made heavy use of traps
    • During the fight, Volterra noticed her magic was behaving oddly
    • As well as the now-usual blizzard erupting around Lital when she raged, one of her hands also became caked with permafrost and she reached out to grab an enemy as if attacking with it – but the attack missed
  • Once the kobolds had been dealt with, you started looting, providing a large bag of cash, some new armour for Lital, and a map:

map.jpg

  • Resolving to investigate Golthrash’s hoard after you’d rested up, you headed towards the village
  • On the outskirts, you came across a (human) woman crying over a (human, male) corpse – the latter clearly having been murdered
    • Jacek set about comforting the woman, who introduced herself as Moira, and identified the body as Kalen, a local druid
      • She explained that with increased Imperial presence here on the frontier, Kalen had been working to strike a balance between the demands and rights of wild folk and those of the expansionist Imperials, and had made enemies in the process – including a half-orc forester called Pogral who threatened to kill Kalen just yesterday!
    • Volterra asked local plants about what had happened, but they provided little useful information
    • Vallessa looked at the tracks and noticed a few odd things – several booted feet, including some really small ones, and a partial print of a giant wolf
    • Daechir investigated the body and noticed that the actual cause of death was that the throat had been shredded by animal teeth – the ritual knife in the chest was put there afterwards. The flesh around the wounds was dried up and puckered like a prune
    • He also noticed that the four little piles of stones arranged around the body had been part of a strange ritual to steal the murdered druid’s soul and power
    • Jacek used the power of his Ring of Honeyed Words to convince Moira that you were all heroes who would bring the murderers to justice – everyone else was horrified at how skeezy he was
  • You headed into the village of Thorn, where Moira had agreed to let you all stay the night in her house/herbalist shop. In the morning, you talked through your ideas and plans.
  • Ruling out the idea that Lital had chopped off her hand and replaced it with an ancient artefact, Daechir performed some tests on her blood, discovering it contained tiny ice crystals/snowflakes
  • You bought a bunch of potions off Moira, and went out and about into the town. Vallessa bought some replacement swords, and then you tried to track down Kalen’s apprentice Silverleaf. Asking around you realised that no one else knew the news yet, and soon a large number of villagers were clamouring outside Moira’s shop, wanting to know what was going on.
  • You decided to head out of town and fulfil Jacek’s promise to Moira…
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33 - Ethics In Heroic Adventuring

* Discussed what had happened to Jacek, and what his destiny is

* Montage

* Encountered a warbanner with the Mother of Liches' symbol on it, and 20 sobbing peasants

* Lital controlled by the banner and attacked Vallessa and Volterra, dropping both

* Vallessa got controlled and dropped Volterra

* Lital eventually destroyed the warbanner and the surviving four peasants fled gratefully

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32 - Actual Cannibal Shia LeBoeuf
  • The inn you’re staying at has a lot of cats and dogs. There’s a strange one-eyed halfling woman behind the bar. The fireplace is sculpted like a giant monstrous mouth. There’s a group of young women in the corner in different-coloured pastel robes, each with a wand.
  • Lital noticed that Jacek’s eyes were a little…bulgey
  • Got given a quest to find a magic rod in a cave in the woods
  • Caught by bear traps!!
  • Actual cannibal Shia LeBoeuf! Also Basilisks!
  • Lital killed everything…
  • Everyone destroyed the valuable unpublished manuscripts in his cave
  • Down into a library, and then through a magic trap, and then fighting some elementals, before Jacek picks up the rod and it and the altar crumbles, revealing 500GP and giving Jacek some weird purple glow…
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31 - Cathartic Atrocity
  • You fell upon the town
    • Vallessa wanders the town, stabbing at random, not checking people are dead or looting
    • Lital was supporting Vallessa
    • Jacek’s engagement is mostly tokenistic, helping to funnel some survivors out, as well as setting fires to the building
    • Daechir’s involvement was around forming some sort of mass grave/pile by the town well and sucking in the necromantic energy
  • Found a bulette with some eggs
  • Dragon attack!
  • Met Valterra
  • Bizarre dancing zombies that gave Jacek a dagger…
  • Went to the shrine, which had some people in it hiding, Jacek let them go free
  • Valterra took a rubbing of the engraving on the surface of the heavy wooden altar, while Jacek stole all the offerings from the shrine, which had been dedicated to the Gods of Light until the town was mystically ruined
  • Set off upriver, towards the Frost River, which is the direction the fleeing people went in
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Death Need Not Be The End!
a manifesto by Daechir

Death is the greatest tragedy in the lives of all. It is a constant in our lives, stealing from us our loved ones, our heroes, the best and the brightest and the most vulnerable all the same. It is deplorable, terrible and horrifying and as such we all too often turn our faces from it, unable to endure the sorrow and pain at living with such an abusive but inescapable shade draped over our world.

Yet it need not be so! Death is far more escapable than many realise. Your mind may flick immediately to the blessings of the gods; resurrection through priests and clerics. Yet such salvation is rare, uncertain and subject to not only the caprice and whims of unknowable deities but the nepotism, greed and prejudices of the holy women and men who administer them. The gods offer no freedom from death, merely a brief respite locked beyond barriers of inequality and partisan politics. The people of our world deserve something better; life eternal, free from the whims of gods and clergy.

And such an opportunity exists, no miracle but through insightful use of cutting edge magic. Here, sadly is where many will decry the evils of necromancy and the dangers of interfering with the energies of life. Yet I can tell you that these old prejudices are false,founded on the vile intentions of the school’s early practitioners rather than any logic or evidence. Necromancy is no more ‘evil’ than evocation; both can kill, both can summon forth constructs, they simply manipulate different energies, different harmonies to achieve those ends. Necromancy is only as fell as the necromancer and here lies the heart of the problem; the Lich Queen.

The so called Mother of Liches was the discoverer of Necromancy, she framed its practice and countenance with her wicked and greedy actions. Still she holds much sway over the practice with er powerful and wide ranging spells and arcana. She is a powerful force in this world, but she is also only a very powerful necromancer and nothing sets her aside from any other powerful necromancer except for the fear and respect we give her. When we fear necromancy simply because its current greatest practitioner is evil we empower her; we feed her legend and strengthen her monopoly.

Like any monopoly her power can be broken if we only agree to do so. Necromancy can be used to heal, it can save lives, knit flesh and bone and, at its extreme, can tether the very soul to the body. Using this tool in these ways weakens the legacy of the One Eyed Queen and strengthens those who would oppose her. Giving power to necromancers who do not follow her wretched path weakens her control and dilutes her fearsome reputation. In time a powerful necromancer with benevolent aims will rise up and overthrow the current mistress of the art.

But we don’t have to wait until that momentous day to begin taking back this power for the good and the deserving. Change your attitudes to necromancy. Share with others the truths written here. If you are ill and clerics and herbalists cannot help you consider consulting a necromancer. We can often find solutions to even life-threatening illnesses!

And if you have a strong determination to see a future where death is no longer a concern consider volunteering for pioneering treatments to bind your soul to your body, infuse your form with magic from the underworld or offer you vitality taken from those sentenced to execution! Live forever with no fear of illness, poison, hunger, thirst, tiredness or pain. Being deathless truly is the ideal state!

Together we can overcome the Mother.

Together we can overcome death!

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