Monday, July 14, 2014

"Return to the Temple of Pain and Suffering" Chapter 22 of the Xanthus River Campaign




This week the entire gang takes up arms to assault the Temple of Adhinatta. While the town guard occupy the main entrance, the party sneaks in through the secret back door. They make their way to the temple chambers and confront the guardians of penitent suffering!

Our party this week consists of:
Player Characters
  • Ser Valerius, Defender of Justica (Level 4 Human Paladin)
  • Absolom, Curate of Justica (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Jalani, Curate of Amun-Tor (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Gwen, Archer of the Otherworld (Level 3 Elf Fighter)
  • Biscuit, Footpad/Minor Trickster (Level 2 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Thaddeus, Stider of Swallow (Level 2 Human Ranger)
Henchmen
  • Babu the Conjurer (Level 3 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Axeman (Level 3 Human Fighter)
  • Brown Tom the Warrior (Level 2 Human Fighter, Squire of Valerius)
Hirelings
  • Clench (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Squat (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Push (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • "War Dog" (Valerius' War Dog)
When we last left our party, Thaddeus and Babu had successfully infiltrated the ruins of Leggach, the new home of the pilgrims of Adhinatta, god of penitence and absolution from Kalmath west of the Great Wall mountains. They had rescued Blue Tom, son of Black Tom, leader of the Path of Fear and Thunder criminal syndicate, and led a revolt of the converts that had become enslaved by the priests. During their escape, Thaddeus had been felled by crossbows and had to be carried back by Babu.

Justice
The sun rose as Babu reunited with Brown Tom in the forest and together they carried Blue Tom and Thaddeus, both infirm, back to the boarding house that had been rented by the party for the month. Babu woke everyone and asked them to gather in the common room. So gathered, Babu informed the party of the events of the previous night as well as the activities of the priests of Adhinatta. Together, the party formulated their course of action. 

First, they took Blue Tom and Thaddeus to the temple of Justicia. The visibly annoyed Zhamach denied any healing beyond the most basic care for Blue Tom and Thaddeus but did agree to give them sanctuary within the temple. 

The party left the temple of Justicia and proceeded to the barracks of the city guard. There they met Yano, captain of the guard. The captain listened to their story and showed genuine concern. He had been distrustful of the priests of Adhinatta since they arrived a little over a month ago and had been looking for any reason to take action against them. Thus far, they had broken no laws and had made several influential friends among the patrician class. Now he had cause to move against them. He sent a messenger to the archon to obtain formal approval for action. 

Meanwhile, Thaddeus asked an acolyte of Justicia to carry him over to the temple of Thumina, goddess of the moon. The acolyte did so and Thaddeus soon had an audience with the priestesses of that order. Thumina was also the goddess of healing and rest and as luck would have it, the high priestess of Thumina happened to be in town, visiting from Thither. Thaddeus made a significant sacrifice to the goddess and was, in turn, rewarded with a miracle, he was completely healed of his recent injuries!  Reinvigorated, he rushed to the citadel to rejoin the rest of the party.

With an official written warrant from the archon, the party, backed by twenty men of the city guard, moved against the priests of Adhinatta!

The city guard were to serve as a diversion, surrounding the ruins of Leggach and occupying any defenders on the surface. The party, meanwhile, would search for the secret entrance to the dungeons beneath the ruins via the river. The party boarded a large river boat and scoured the shore. Thaddeus the ranger soon found the entrance concealed by some rocks and low-hanging branches. The tunnel appeared to be a natural cave but was large enough to admit their boat if they crouched low.

Commando Raid!
They cautiously made their way into the flooded cave. When the cave branched, they took a left. After snaking through the watery passage for several hundred feet, they emerged into a large natural cavern with several passages as exits. The far half of the cave rose out of the water. In the far corner they spied a door in a man-made entrance. They disembarked and climbed the sloping cave floor to the entrance, 

The party explored the corridor, a series of ascending stairs. They were stopped by a heavy door, swollen shut from centuries of disuse. They forced it open, knowing that this was not the supply route that Thaddeus was looking for but confident the way would lead into the dungeon anyway. 

The room was an ancient prison with a deep shaft at its center and a shaft in the ceiling which had become plugged with debris. They explored a side door and discovered a series of prison cells filled with the skeletons of those left to die. They entered and explored the room. An unseen force slammed the door shut behind them and pulled a lever opening all the cells. The skeletons rose and advanced on the party. Absolom, however, easily turned the skeletons back with a display of his holy symbol. Valerius forced the door open and the party retreated. An anguished spectral scream echoed futilely through the ancient passages. 

The party took a different exit and found two long-abandoned rooms, both with deep pits. Within one room was a pit with the skeleton of a winged humanoid chained to the floor. The pit in the other room was empty. 

Taking another exit, they followed a winding passage that opened onto a platform overlooking a storage room, a room known to Thaddeus from his brief recconnaisance beneath the quarry. The party began climbing the ladder in the wide shaft that led to the quarry.

Trap!
On the way up, they noticed a deep room cut into the shaft like a wide nook. At the end of the nook was the statue of a torso wearing fine chain mail. Two bracers lay crossed before the armor and a wand was placed on a silk pillow. Confident that the items were an obvious trap, they sent Biscuit the thief to investigate. Biscuit made it look easy as he identified the drop-away floor, purposefully and safely triggering it, and disabling the trap so that it would not reset. The floor, however, was stuck open leaving a ten-foot gap all around the armor. Biscuit easily climbed the wall and recovered the heirlooms. No time was wasted identifying the items, they were placed in the bag of holding for later.

They party continued up, through the now empty quarry, through the slave barracks, and up the ladder to the secret room. Valerius led the way, his war-dog suspended by a harness on his back. 

At the top the ladder, Valerius found that the room was no secret. A temple acolyte, armed with nothing but a dagger, was guarding the ladder and sounded the alarm. Valerius rushed up and disengaged his war-dog's harness. Valerius charged into battle followed by the rest of the party. The small force of acolytes and priests guarding the door were quickly cut down by Valerius but not before one of the priests opened the great carven doors to the temple to shout his warning. 

The Temple Guardians
The large temple within was a chamber of horrors. Dozens of worshippers hung naked and suspended by hooked chains, their flesh flayed from their bodies, their blood collected in chalices placed under them. Their moans of pain and suffering creating a droning hymn to their evil god. Each of them showed signs of repeated torture and healing. 

The party was met by seventeen zombies, the reanimated bodies of the acolytes and guards who were killed the night before. The zombies, in turn, were led by two mighty warriors, one clad in resplendent splint-mail armor and carrying an axe. The other was naked save for two bracers, a helmet, and a spear. Each of the warriros was, in turn, supported by a temple priest.
Knott, Jilani, and Babu on the left flank; Valerius, Gwen and Absolom on the right flank

Absolom and Jilani easily turned back the zombies, leaving only the warriors. Babu's sleep spell was wasted against the naked warrior as they both charged to attack. Jilani was able to paralyze the naked warrior with a holy prayer while Babu immobilized the armored warrior with a magical web spell. The party focused on killing the naked warrior before the paralysis wore off and soon discovered that mundane weapons had no effect on them! Magical weapons were brought to bear and the warrior was soon killed. They then eliminated the two priests. Finally, they released the armored warrior from the webbing and ganged up on him with magical weapons. Even outnumbered so, the warrior was a fierce combatant, but eventually died before their onslaught.
Valerius, Gwen, and Absolom
 
After the battle, Valerius turned to the zombies, destroying each one in turn until they were all eliminated.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Next week, the party explores the rest of the temple area, hunting the high priestess in order to put an end to the evil of Adhinatta!

After Thoughts

Instead of playing out the final battle with the zombies, Trevor (Thaddeus' player) and Scott (Valerius' player) did the math, comparing damage per round and determinning how many rounds it would take for Valerius, alone, to reach the forgone conclusion of destroying all the zombies, and how much damage he should expect to take as a result. Instead of playing it out, I just had Valerius take that much damage (19 pointns).

By the way, here's how Thaddeus got around the week of down-time after having been reduced to zero hit points.

Trevor's plan was to pay for a priest to cast Heal, a fifth level spell that restores 5d4 hit points and eliminates the one week downtown from a near-death experience. Unfortunately, Heal requires a tenth level caster and I told Trevor there were no tenth level clerics in Swallow. However, I am a benevolent overlod and said he could have a 1-in-6 change there'd be a visiting high priestess from Thither. Die roll. 1 of course. Of course, she's only visiting so she won't be there in the future. They'll have to go to Thither for that spell.