Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"The Ultimatum" - Chapter 7 of Dwellers of the Forbidden City


This week, the party is ambushed by a force of reptile men. Later, they meet a new ally. Then, as they camp out and figure out what to do next, Aline has a stunning revelation that leads to a super-tense confrontation within the group!

The Group:
  • Inza, aka "The Shadow", Human Shadow-Warrior (Monk 6/Sorcerer 1)
  • Randalf Azul, Human Abjurer (Wizard 7)
  • Gravy, Human Priest of Thumina (Cleric 7)
  • Aline, a Thaumaturge of half-Human/half-Sylvan* parentage (Wizard 7)
  • Lodar, Prairiefolk** Barbarian (Barbarian 7)
Introducing:
  • Sorjin, Human Adventurer, Bounty Hunter, ...Ladies Man (Fighter 6/Something Else 1)
* Elf
** Halfling
*** Half-Orc

Last week, the party defeated Anuran, the living god of the swamp, and were returning to their hide-out through the tall rushes.

Ambush of the Reptile Men
They emerged from the rushes and walked down one of the abandoned boulevards of the lost city of Sinopia. Aline and Randalf were carrying Gravy's unconscious body. Suddenly, they found their way blocked by eight reptile men, one of them mounted on a hadrosaur and carrying a long lance, and a giant crayfish monster called a chuul. They were further surprised when another eight, plus another lancer mounted on a hadrosaur, and another giant crayfish monster, emerged from the tall rushes behind them. The first lancer called out in hissing lisping common, "Where do you think yourrrrr going?"

The party paused to consider their options and to attempt to read the intentions of the reptile-men. Suddenly, the first lancer called out, "Thesssse are the invaderssss the miissstreessss told usssss about! Killllll themmmmm!!" and both forces closed in!

Aline took the unconscious Gravy, jumped on her broom, and zipped into the air, staying below the roof line of the surrounding twenty-foot-tall buildings. Inza jumped to the roof of an ancient craftsman's shop on the right. They were immediately swarmed by reptile-men warriors carrying shields made of turtle shells and embedded with shards of obsidian and wielding macuahuitl - clubs embedded with obsidian shards.

Aline drew her wand of wonder and aimed it at the reptile-men, calling out a warning to Randalf. Randalf immediately disappeared into a silvery puff, magically reappearing atop an ancient building rooftop to the right. Suddenly -  POOMPF! Aline's wand created a cloud of stinking gas that sent several of the scaly brutes into fits of retching.

Randalf called out to Aline, telling her that he had a goodberry and that he could rouse Gravy. Aline rolled her eyes, "You could have told me that about ten minutes ago!" She brought Gravy down and the priest of Thumina was brought back to consciousness.

Gravy looked around, disoriented and confused, "What's going on. Did we win?"
Gravy

"Shut up and pray for us!"

The cleric blinked and immediately prayed to the goddess of the moon. The goddess strengthened and reinvigorated Aline and Randalf, both of whom were still reeling from their recent battle with Anuran.

Inza jumped down from his building and engaged the mounted reptile man to the front. Aline cast a fireball spell at the group of reptile men to the rear.

Suddenly Lodar burst from a nearby side-alley, screaming and frothing at the mouth in a barbarian rage! The diminutive savage charged into a throng of the reptile-men menacing Inza. From whence he came, none could say. He simply caught up to the group and engaged their enemies in battle! For a short moment, Inza and Lodar fought back to back against an army of evil reptile-men!

Lodar Returns!
Having killed the lancer and his mount, Inza left Lodar to fight the remaining reptile-men and their chuul. Inza climbed to the roof of the building across the street in order to protect Randalf and Aline from the clawed fiends who had scaled the walls to attack the wizards.

What followed was a frenetic roof-top chase and battle as Aline, forced out of the air by nearby giant wasps, fled from Reptile-Men, Randalf fled from the giant cray-fish monster known as a chuul, and Inza followed behind engaging the villains that plagued them.

At one point, Gravy was pushed off the roof-top! Inza reacted quickly, casting a feather fall spell on the cleric, who drifted safely to the ground. Once on the ground, Gravy had to *GASP* draw his weapon and engage the enemy! This may have been the first time this had ever happened!
Inza the Shadow

Meanwhile, Lodar, alone, personally fought off and killed no fewer the eight or nine reptile men that surrounded him!

Eventually, the reptile men were defeated, though one managed to run away and escape. No doubt to report to his evil master, Horan.

Adventurer, Bounty Hunter, ...Ladies Man
The party found their way back to their retreat, a mezzanine around a central chamber in one of the ruined buildings. As they entered their hideout, they found an armored man looking through their things!

They called out a challenge to the stranger. He spun around and held up his hands!

"Whoah! Whoah! I'm a friend!"

"Who are you?" asked Aline.
Sorjin. So Dreamy!

"My name is Sorjin. I'm an adventurer, bounty hunter, ...ladies man." Sorjin grinned and winked.

DM Note - Winner of the best line of the night award! 

Aline pressed, "What are you doing here."

"Your highness, I'm here to rescue you!"

"WHAT?"

"Are you not the Silvan Princess, daughter of the King Verdurous?"

"No!"

"Dammit! I did it again! Um, have you seen her?"

The group exchanged notes, bringing Sorjin up to speed. Sorjin was WAY off base. He had mistook Aline for someone else and now his trail was cold. In the meantime, he figured he'd fall in with this group for safety in numbers.

DM Note - Trevor was unhappy with Duma, so he created Sorjin who already seems more fun to play.

Things Best Left Unknown
The group settled in to rest for the night. Aline decided to spend the time trying to interrogate Indigo again. She summoned him forth. The rebellious Imp whined, "What????"

She said, "It's time we had a talk." She put on the magical Helm of Telepathy.
Indigo the Imp

"No, boss, I told you. You don't want to do that! I'm WARNING you!"

Aline looked directly at her familiar, "Tell me who you work for!"

Indigo bared his fangs and rolled his head in frustration, then fixed a menacing stare directly at his mistress.

DM Note - I made Aline's player get up and leave the room for this part.

Aline's eyes rolled back into her head. She turned around and retrieved the crystal ball from her satchel. She held it in her hands and began chanting, reciting an evil spell.

Randalf and Inza noticed this. Inza jumped up and stunned Aline with a nerve strike to the shoulder. She fell limp, the ball rolled out of her hand.

DM Note - I called Aline's player back into the room.

Aline came awake, "What just happened?"
Aline

Inza told her. Randalf confirmed, she was casting an infernal gate spell, a magical incantation that would open a portal to the Nine Hells, domain of the fiendish Baatetzu.

Randalf shouted at Indigo, "That's it! You're done!"

Aline defended her imp, "No! He's not responsible! It's not his fault!"

Randalf strongly suggested to Aline that she relinquish the crystal ball. Aline, still shaken, concurred. She handed the ball to the elder wizard. Randalf took out a handkerchief to pick up the transparent sphere.

As soon as Randalf touched the crystal ball, he fell over. He was not breathing. His heart was not beating. Gravy jumped into action and resuscitated him.

DM Note - Zero hit points. No save. Bad mojo!

Sorjin stood up and took notice. He stared at the crystal ball. He seemed to recognize it. "It is a key. If left unchecked, it will open a gate that will free all the Baatetzu, who will storm heaven and kill the gods of the Aslak!"


He said quietly, almost whispering, "It must be destroyed." He took out his mace and struck the crystal ball with all his strength.

He fell over. Dying.

Gravy rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. "Knock it off!" and resuscitated the newcomer.

Randalf coughed and slowly stood up, glaring at the imp and bearing his teeth in anger.

Indigo jumped into Aline's arms, suddenly afraid.

Randalf confronted Aline and Indigo. "That's it. I've had it. Either he goes, you go, or I go!"

Aline and Randalf stared at each other in angry silence as the rest of the party awkwardly looked on.

Randalf confronts Aline about Indigo


TO BE CONTINUED!

DM Note - Not really. We actually role-played a bit after this and did some preliminary scouting for the next part of the adventure. We also did a lot of role-playing and discussion via e-mail. Spoiler Alert! We resolved the impasse but the players suggested I end this week's write-up here and leave it as a cliff-hanger "To boost ratings" they said.

This event really did create a tense moment in the party. One which we had to check later - was this all just role-playing or was there any player animosity going on here?  As I suspected, it was Randalf's player doing an amazing job role-playing and getting into character as always! 

Anyway, how did we resolve this conflict? Find out next time!