Thursday, January 26, 2017

"The Holy Radiance of Lathander" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 37

Cordon shook off his grogginess. Had he been asleep? If so, how was he standing?

He looked around, confused. He was surrounded by thin emaciated people wearing shifts and loincloths made of coarse material. There were humans, dwarves, blue-skinned elves, drow, and deep gnomes. They looked as confused and disoriented as he did. Each of them had an eye tattooed onto their foreheads. Cordon noticed that he was wearing the same shift and loincloth. He touched his forehead wondering if he too bore the same mark as the others.

They were all milling about in some kind of stone chamber. The only light came from magically glowing crystal sconces growing from the walls. The sounds of fighting could be heard echoing down a nearby corridor. He and a few others cautiously advanced.

He saw a motley group in life-or-death struggle with a massive floating beholder in a massive vertical shaft. The group consisted of a pint-sized male halfling, a brutish male orc, a male human knight, and a female human wizard. They were traversing a corkscrew walkway that wound its way down the wall of the shaft while the beholder flew, hovered, and weaved.

Suddenly the halfling leaped up onto the beholder. The beholder moved out over the shaft as the halfling began stabbing it. The two plummeted over a hundred feet and crashed to the floor. Cordon winced at the meaty sound of the impact.

A few moments later the halfling was joined by his companions as they seemed to be butchering the beholder.

Cordon and a few of his fellow captives advanced. Cordon held up his hand and smiled, "Greetings, I am Cordon the Morninglord, the Holy Radiance of Lathander!"


Five heroes scour the Underdark
in order to find the ingredients
of an arcane ritual
that will banish the Demon-Lords
back to the Abyss
from which they escaped.

After defeating the purple worms
at the worm nursery
and obtaining six purple worm eggs
the expedition now travels
to the mysterious Vast Oblivium
in order to harvest the central eye
of a dangerous beholder...

Sir Valerius Adeques - (PC, human paladin 11) Defender and champion of the old gods of nature.
Willow - (PC, human wizard 11) "the solution is always fireball!"
Phwee-toop - (NPC) Salix/Willow's owl familiar.
Ront - (PC, half-orc barbarian 11) Savage orc of the Iron-Thews tribe seeking redemption for his failures.
Pain Grille' - (PC, halfling rogue 11) Wily street urchin from Waterdeep, was turned to stone in Blingdenstone but got better.

Cordon - (PC, human cleric 10) Priest of Lathandor the Sun God, was on a holy quest when he was captured and enslaved by Karazikar the Beholder

Thora Nabal - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Sylrien Havennor - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Elias Drako - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Tamryn Tharke - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Feral Killmander - (NPC)  human spy of the Lord's Alliance
Pok-Pok - (NPC) winged kobold.
Sparky - (NPC) trained fire-beetle.
The Shield Guardian - (NPC) a contribution from Lord Zelraun Roaringhorn of the Harpers.

The freed slaves of Karazikar consisted of:
  • 21 shield dwarves from Gauntlgrym including Anzar the Brazen of the Lord's Alliance, Brim Coppervein and Thargus Forkbeard of the Emeral Enclave, and famed explorer Amarith Coppervein.
  • 17 humans including Cordon the priest of Lathandor, Lhytris Ilgarn of the Black Cloaks of the Zhentarim as well as Zilna Oakshadow and Hilvius Haever of the Lord's Alliance and Olaf Renghyi of the Order of the Gauntlet. 
  • 11 moon elves
  • 9 drow
  • 5 deep gnomes
  • 23 goblins
  • 15 orogs
  • Derendil the intelligent quaggoth.
  • An insand modron
All of the slaves wore simple shifts and loincloths and each bore the tattoo of an eye on their forehead.

The heroes discussed their plans with the freed slaves.

The orogs simply left without a word with the goblins in tow. Likewise the drow vanished with nary a farewell. Derendil, however, desired to continue his quest to find Gravenhollow.

The deep gnomes offered to lead the dwarves, humans, and elves to Blingdenstone. There they could accompany a trade caravan to Gauntlgrym and the Overworld. The journey would take sixteen tridons.

Ser Valerius and Pain decided to lead Derendil to Gravenhollow with their contingent of warriors and guards. Using the magical Tablet of Garmin the journey would take eighteen tridons to travel there and return.

Ser Valerius announced that they had no time to waste so they gathered all the food they could carry on the pack lizards and set out for the fabled library of the Stone Giants.

Cordon informed Ront and Willow that he had no wish to return to the Overworld. He had important work to perform in the Underdark and wished to continue his mission. Cordon was disappointed to learn that his weapons, armor, and magic shield had not been found within the Vast Oblivium. He was outfitted with an extra mace from the party's inventory.

A short while later, Willow asked Cordon if he could pray for a miracle of restoration for the insane modron. Cordon prayed for the bio-mechanical creature and the modron's wits were returned.

Willow followed up by casting a magic spell which allowed everyone nearby to telepathically communicate regardless of language barrier.

The modron and the Overworlders found it difficult to communicate. The modron communicated only in plural pronounds. The modron had no sense of individuality and constantly referred to themselves as "they" and "we" and "us". Indeed, they had no sense of "you" or "it" or "me" or "him" and the modron became confused when Willow or Ront would use these strange words. This greatly complicated attempts by Ront and Willow to communicate with them.

Ront, Willow, and Cordon soon learned that the modron was part of "the Great March", an event that Willow understood to be a great modron tour of the multiverse. The modron, which identified themselves as "duodrone", explained that they had became lost, then they were captured, then they lost it completely, then they were returned to order.

When asked about the Maze Engine, Duodrone admitted that they knew of nothing by that name. However, they could detect an Orderer approximately 289 miles south of their present location. The Orderer brought order to chaos and set things right.

Willow looked a the others, "The Orderer must be this Maze Engine."

Cordon observed his new friends in reserved silence.

While Ront and Cordon scoured the rest of the Vast Oblivium for anything useful, Willow prepared the bodies of Karazikar and Shedrak for use with the Stonespeaker Crystal.

She touched the crystal to the beholder. The magic returned a semblance of life to the butchered aberration. She interviewed the creature regarding the modron and the maze engine. She appealed to the creatures vanity and self-importance by promising to create for it a stone mausoleum and crypt if it truthfully answers her questions.

Karazikar, flattered by the prospect of an imposing tomb, answered as best he could but the questions were poorly chosen and his answers were ultimately vague and unhelpful.

Willow turned to Shedrak. She once again offered an imposing burial place in exchange for truthful answers. Shedrak wanted only to be entombed forever with his beloved master. She agreed. She asked the dead wizard about the slaves' belongings. He told her that he traded them to drow merchants for food. The drow merchants had last visited three tridons ago and were likely on their way to Mantol-Derith.

Afterwards, Willow kept her promises and, via the casting of stone-shaping spells, created imposing tombs for both villains..

Told that the drow merchants had left only three tridons ago, Ront decided to take a contingent of dwarven scouts and decided to explore the area around the Vast Oblivium to search for signs of their passing.

After a few hours of reconnaissance the dwarven scouts came running back around the bend ahead. They were being chased by two mutated orogs!

The orogs were highly deformed. One of the orogs had two heads and carried a weapon in each arm. The other had one head but four arms. The dwarves made it behind Ront. The orog attacked Ront with each weapon. Ront counterattacked with his greatsword. After another attack Ront cleaved through the orog, cutting him down. Ront continued forward and slew the second orog with a single strike!

The search party continued their search but returned to the Vast Oblivium after finding nothing.

Ront, Willow, and Cordon decided to accompany the deep gnome expedition to take the humans, dwarves, and elves to Blingdenstone.

From there they would continue on to Mantol-Derith to find Cordon's belongings. They left a note at the Vast Oblivium telling the other expedition of their quest and asking them to meet up with them in Mantol-Derith.

They walked until they were tired, resting until they were sleepy, and sleeping until they were awake. Thus they traveled for over a dozen cycles, encountering various hazards and wonders of the Underdark.

On the fifteenth cycle their route took them to a vast chasm spanned by a frayed rope bridge. Willow once again cast her stone shaping spell and crafted a stone bridge which they were able to safely cross. She decorated the bridge with the mark "W".

After sixteen cycles they arrived at the secret entrance to Blingdenstone. Ront was welcomed as a returning hero. Ront informed the guards that he needed to return the royal gemstone. Ront and the others were ushered to an audience with Dorbo and Senni Diggermattock, co-regents of Blingdenstone, who had since moved their base of operations to the throne room within the royal geode.

Blingdenstone was active. The population had doubled since they left from just over three hundred to over six hundred. Repairs were being made, stone elementals were carrying heavy loads and reopening tunnels, life was returning to normal.

On the way, Ront encountered two familiar faces: Topsy and Turvy. The twins were as annoying as ever and Ront did his best to resist the urge to murder them where they stood. Willow was unable to determine whether the twins still suffered lycanthropy or not. When the twins were told that the party was on their way to speak with the co-regents, the twins became evasive and ran away.

The meeting with Dorbo and Senni went well. They greeted Ront warmly and welcomed his new friends. Ront presented them with the gemstone recovered by the box carried by the succubus pretending to be Gabble Dripskillet. They thanked Ront and brought him up to speed on what has happened in Blingdenstone and Mantol-Derith since they left. Ront and Willow provided news on their own adventurers.

Ront asked about the fate of Kettle and Angolwen, the two party members who were turned to stone along with Pain by Neheedra the Medusa. They told Ront that the same alchemy that saved Pain saved the other two and that they were searching the Underdark for clues to the fate of the royal family of Blingdenstone.

Dorbo then took Ront aside and offered him the use of a dozen Svirfneblin guards to accompany him on their mission to destroy the demon lords. Ront refused their aid for the greater mission but did ask if they could accompany them to Mantol-Derith. Dorbo agreed.

The team re-equipped and resupplied themselves in Blingdenstone. Cordon sought out a tattoo artist to convert the eye tattoo on his forehead into a sun, symbol of his god Lathander. The work took the better part of a shift but the results came out better than expected.

They stopped off at the Foaming Mug where they were treated as honored guests and encouraged to tell their stories to the innkeeper. Ront asked about the dour barmaid but was embarrased to discover that he had confused the inn with the Grohlborn's Lair in Gracklstugh.

After a comfortable rest, Ront, Willow, and Cordon left the humans, dwarves, and elves in Blingdenstone. The next trade caravan would take them to the Overworld. Ront, Willow, and Cordon then took a complement of a dozen deep gnomes to Mantol-Derith.

The next leg of their journy took them to Jewelshine-on-Darklake. The journey was uneventful. They took a long boat from Jewelshine-on-Darklake to Mantol-Derith.

The boat arrived in a hidden niche on the shores of Darklake, the secret Svirfneblin entrance to Mantol-Derith. There they saw an elven druid sitting on a rock dangling his feet in the water. A shoulderbag and staff sat nearby.

"Hello there," said the druid, "care to join me?"

The party introduced themselves from the safety of their boat. The elf introduced himself as "Sladis Vadir", a name Ront immediately recognized. Morista Malkin of the Emerald Enclave tasked Ront with, should they find Sladis in the Underdark, returning the druid safely to Gauntlgrym.

Ront surreptitiously gave Sladis the secret hand-sign of the Emerald Enclave. Sladis provided the correct reply and Ront came ashore.

When asked what he was doing there, Sladis answered that he had been a member of a mission. The mission failed and Sladis was the only survivor. He tried to keep a positive outlook, however, and was just sitting on this rock enjoying the beauty of the Darklake.

Sladis asked about the recent travels of the party. Ront explained that they had come from Blingdenstone and were on their way to Mantol-Derith.

"Ah, Blingdenstone. I've been there."

Ront decided to give Sladis a little test, "What the name of Inn there?"

"Hmm.. Right, the Foaming Mug! I love that place! The patrons there are delicious."

Ront replied, "Yes, well... wait- you just say patrons delicious?"

"What's that? Oh no! I said the pastries there are delicious!"

Ront narrowed his eyes, "Hunh." He shared a glance with Willow.

"You say you are heading to Mantol-Derith? I've never been there! I've been all over the Underdark but that location has yet eluded me! May I join you?"

Ront cautiously answered, "Yes. But way is secret. You need wear blindfold."

"That is acceptable!"

With that, the druid gathered his shoulder bag and staff and accepeted the blindfold.

The party passed through the secret door.

As they passed through the long dark tunnel that led into the city, Cordon walked up next to Ront and Willow. "Ahem. I thought I should tell you now. I think I trust you well enough to tell you about my mission.  I was sent by the high priests of Lathander to find the Maze Engine. We believe that the Maze Engine can be used to banish Demon Lords back to the Abyss. This may be a solution to the Demon Lord problem. I just thought you should know about what because I think we need to journey to the Labyrinth and find it and activate it. Good? Thanks. Right then."

Ront and Willow exchanged glances of disbelief that the priest waited until now to share that bit of information.


DM Notes - This was a fun week. We had lots of time to role-play and the return to familiar locales was a treat to the players, allowing them to interact with known NPCs and see the effect their actions have had on the world. Nothing builds a sense of place like returning to a known location and meeting known NPCs, especially old friends. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"The Vast Oblivium" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 36

Valerius Adeques held the sun sword "Dawnbringer" aloft, its brilliant light illuminated the long dark tunnel ahead of them. The tunnels of the Wormwrithings were smooth and round and mostly straight, the trails left by the burrowing of gargantuan purple worms.

"Pain, where to next?"

Pain Grille' consulted the flat rectangle of smokey black glass. Glowing runes indicated their current position and the location of their next objectives.

"The tablet of Garmin says the next closest objective is located in the Vast Oblivium, only four leagues down this tunnel!"

"What's the objective?" asked the armored paladin.

"Um.. it's the central eye of a beholder," the halfling thief winced.

"We better rest first. The worm nursery was exhausting!"

The expedition unloaded their packs and lay down in the tunnel to rest.

Somewhere on a nearby stone wall, a large glassy eye opened and looked around. No one noticed.


Five heroes scour the Underdark
in order to find the ingredients 
of an arcane ritual
that will banish the Demon-Lords
back to the Abyss
from which they escaped.

After defeating the purple worms
at the worm nursery 
and obtaining six purple worm eggs
the expedition now travels 
to the mysterious Vast Oblivium
in order to harvest the central eye
of a dangerous beholder...

Sir Valerius Adeques - (PC, human paladin 10) Defender and champion of the old gods of nature.
Willow - (PC, human wizard 10) "the solution is always fireball!"
Phwee-toop - (NPC) Salix/Willow's owl familiar.
Ront - (PC, half-orc barbarian 10) Savage orc of the Iron-Thews tribe seeking redemption for his failures.
Pain Grille' - (PC, halfling rogue 10) Wily street urchin from Waterdeep, was turned to stone in Blingdenstone but got better.

Thora Nabal - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Sylrien Havennor - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Elias Drako - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Tamryn Tharke - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
Feral Killmander - (NPC)  human spy of the Lord's Alliance
Pok-Pok - (NPC) winged kobold.
Sparky - (NPC) trained fire-beetle.
The Shield Guardian - (NPC) a contribution from Lord Zelraun Roaringhorn of the Harpers.

DM Note - before we started, Willow's player showed off a new book she had printed with her spells. The outside resembled the cover of a spellbook and the inside was a printed spreadsheet with all her spell details. I was very impressed. That was enough to make up for all the weeks she missed in November so I caught her up with everyone else level-wise. 

It was during the third watch and the orcish barbarian known as Ront was lazily keeping his one good eye on the dark passage. He could hear the human female Tamryn Tharke perform her bizarre human mating ritual at the human male Feral Killmander. Ront rolled his eye and sniffed as Feral continued to reject the woman's lurid advances. The human brood mother was obviously in heat. Ront's natural orcish fecundity became momentarily aroused but he pushed the impulse away. Ront had rejected the orcish ways. He would not succumb to his bestial nature.

Suddenly Ront saw a large eye the size of a halfling's head open in the rock wall and look around. Ront stood up and approached the eye. It closed and disappeared!

"Wake up! Wake up!" He roused the leaders of the expedition and recounted what he saw. Willow examined the wall and detected the rapidly disappearing afterglow of magic, like the fading heat of a hand that had touched a cold surface.
Pain Grille'

The halfling Pain expressed doubt that Ront had seen anything. Ront was offended and the pair began to argue.

By this time everyoen was awake and sufficiently rested so the expedition decided to pack up and continue on to the Vast Oblivium

Ront saw another smaller eye about a league into their journey. This eye was smaller and appeared on the back of Pain's head. The eye peered around. Ront got close and made eye contact before poking the eye with his finger. Pain cried out at the sharp jab and the loud argument recommenced.

By the second league everyone had the distinct sense they were being watched. After three leagues even Pain admitted that he had seen a mysterious eye appear and disappear.

Eventually the tablet of Garmin indicated their arrival at their destination. A second tunnel branched off the main tunnel at a right angle. This tunnel was likewise round and smooth but was too smooth to have been dug by a purple worm. Steps led down into the darkness.

The expedition left the pack animals and the Order of the Gauntlet at the main tunnel. They descended into the side tunnel. The smooth walls gave way to hundreds of small round nodules carved into the walls. Each nodule resembled a stylized eye with a hole in the center. Pain Grille' examined the holes and caught the acrid whiff of a flame trap.

They continued until they entered a spherical foyer. On the far end of the foyer was a round entrance with twin brass doors. An emaciated dwarf stood near the door. He was bound around the neck to a chain attached to the wall. He had glassy eyes and a slack mouth.

Without looking or otherwise acknowledging the newcomers the dwarf rasped in Undercommon, "Who approaches the Vast Oblivium?"

Pain stepped forward and spoke for the party, "We are explorers from the surface. We wish an audience with the lord of this realm."

The dwarf continued to stare blankly at the ceiling, its mouth speaking the words of another, "My lord Karazikar does not entertain visitors. What do you offer in tribute?"

Ront, Willow, Valerius, and Pain quickly exchanged panicked glances. Pain quickly decided, "We bring for him the fresh egg of a purple worm."

The voice was silent as it considered the offer. A moment later it replied, "That is insufficient. Your true motives are clear and you will not succeed. You are not welcome here. You will leave immediately or I will activate our defenses."

Another voice hissed a whisper from the wall, "Pssst. PSSSTTT!"  Against the wall hid a deep gnome, perfectly camouflaged against the rock wall. It was Peebles, the beholder hunter from Mantol-Derith! "You're, ah, not going to get in that way. Meet me back in the main hallway. I gots an, ah, proposition!"

Peebles the Deep Gnome
DM Note- I described Peebles as the disheveled deep gnome wearing a leather satchel over his shoulder. You once saw him cut off beholder eye stalks and put them in his satchel.

My players suddenly realized the joke, "No, are you telling us the satchel is..."

"That's right. It's an over-the-shoulder beholder holder."


Peebles was a skinny disheveled svirfneblin with a leather satchel. He was a collector of beholder eyes for a mysterious master. Rumor had it that his master was a beholder who somehow surgically grafted to their body the eyes of other rival beholders. No one trusted Peebles and Ront wanted very badly to kill him on principle.

"Look, ah, it's not really safe to speak here."

Willow intervened, performing a ritual that allowed everyone on the team to communicate telepathically.

"So, I, ah, I can speak and nobody can hear me?"

"No, Peebles. You don't have to speak out loud. Just think what you want to say."

"Right, so I think it and say it."

"No! Just think quietly!"

"Got it. I say what I need to say and then think about it quietly."

This went on for some time until Peebles was finally able to communicate silently with the rest of the party.

"So, ah, does this mean I'm a part of the team? Is there an initiation? Do I get a nickname? Oh, what's our team name?"

"Peebles! What is your plan?"

"Oh, right, ah, the plan. Okay. You're here to kill Karazikar, right? I get it. I'm with you. I'm here to kill him too, if I can. Only, you're not going to get in the front door. You see, he, ah, he already knows everything about you and why you're here."

He paused before continuing, "But, ah, see, I know a back way in. Only, it's, ah, it's not easy and I can't do it alone. I need your, ah, your help. It's what you might call, ah, guarded. I can show you the way. All I ask is for some, ah, alone time with Karazikar after you're done. I just want a few eye stalks for, ah, for reasons."

The party deliberated and agreed to Peeble's plan.

Peebles led the expedition to a spot a few hundred feet away from the entrance to the Vast Oblivium. There they found a hidden alcove. Within the alcove was a round vertical shaft. Peebles said the shaft dropped down about a hundred feet. It was a secret escape tunnel for Karazikar.

The expedition dropped ropes and descended the tunnel, leaving the Order of the Gauntlet behind to guard the pack animals. While the others clambered down ropes, Willow gently descended on her flying broom.

Ser Valerius, Ront, and Pain dropped into a round room with a single exit and moved out of the way of those still descending. Suddenly, Ser Valerius and Ront were attacked by an invisible force! It was as if the air itself hammered against them. As the invisible force struck Ser Valerius, the paladin lashed out with a counterattack. The counterblow caused the invisible force to emit an unearthly and bloodcurdling scream. Ser Valerius followed up with another attack, striking the empty air before him and killing his invisible foe.

Meanwhile, the other invisible assailant attacked Ront once and fled down the sole exit in a gust of wind.

The expedition followed the invisible attacker down the corridor that opened onto a one hundred foot deep vertical shaft. Other corridors and openings were cut into the walls of the shaft which were connected by rope ladders and rope bridges. Pain sniffed the breeze and determined that the attacker fled down another passage.

The chase led them to an even larger vertical shaft. This shaft was easily over a hundred feet wide and six hundred feet deep. The corridor opened about a hundred feet below the top of the shaft. The top of the shaft was a huge convex carving of the likeness of a beholder. The pupil of its central eye formed a smaller vertical shaft in the ceiling. The smaller eyes were opaque glass hemispheres that glowed, providing dim illumination throughout the shaft of dark stone.

Ten concentric ledges were built into the outside wall of the shaft. Each ledge was connected to the next below it by stairs. Each ledge allowed access to a different horizontal corridor cut into the wall of the shaft.

As the Ront, Pain, and Ser Valerius stood in the entrance to the corridor examining their surroundings a voice called out from the corridor on the next lower ledge ring. It was the voice that greeted them at the entrance.

"Who dares invade the sanctity of Karazikar, the Lord of Eyes? Infidels! For your blasphemous tresspass, you will suffer my harshest punishment, for I am none other than my lord's greatest hierophant, Shedrak of the Eyes!"

The man wore the robes of a wizard and carried a staff topped with a moving eye encased in a glass sphere. The man's bald head was adorned with tattoos of eyes with a large central eye on his forehead.

Shedrak cast a fireball spell at the party. Willow stepped forward and dismissed the spell with a gesture. Shedrak glared at her!

Willow then reached out her hand at Shedrak and the wizard's staff flew from his hand. It moved slowly through the air towards Willow's waiting grasp. Shedrak shouted, "Fiends! Infidels! You will pay for this outrage!"

Shedrak produced a scroll and cast a spell of invulnerability which would render Willow's magic harmless against him. Pain ran down the stairs towards the wizard with his shortsword drawn. The wizard turned and fled back down his passage but Pain gave chase. Using his magical boots of speed, the halfling rogue easily caught up with the wizard and dispatched him out of sight of the others.

Ront ran forward down the stairs but was once more beset by the invisible attacker. Ront swing wildly at the air as the invisible combatant retreated after each attack.

Suddenly a voice boomed from the small shaft in the center of the carving in the ceiling, "Fools! I know why you are here! You will fail in your mission! The modron is mine! You will never find the Maze Engine! Only I will possess its power!"

Pain sent a confused glance at Ser Valerius. The Paladin shrugged. Pain replied to the others, "Anybody know what that is?" Everyone shook their heads.

A large spherical form descended from the shaft, hovering twenty feet above the uppermost ring. It was Karazikar the Eye Tyrant! His spherical body was ten feet wide and possessed a single large eye and a wide toothy mouth. Its skin was thick and scaly. Ten short tentacle-like stalks, each topped with a single round eye, writhed and waved. Each eye was a different color.

The beholder cast the gaze of its large central eye on the group at the entrance. All magical and magical items within the beholder's gaze was rendered inert. The sword Dawnbringer winked out. Magical armor became heavier and bulkier. Meanwhile, it turned one of its smaller eyes towards Pain. Pain found himself charmed by the gaze of the eye, he could take no action to harm the beholder. Feral Killmander was likewise struck by a deadly eye ray and almost died. He was pulled back and ordered to stay behind the rest of the party.
Willow knew that the gaze of the central eye of a beholder could cancel out all magic within its view so she sprinted down the stairs to escape its effects.

Willow turned and case a polymorph spell on the beholder. The beholder barely spat out, "Your puny spell will never work on-" before he turned into a goat!

The goat hung motionless in mid-air for a moment as it realized what happened. It then fell five hundred fifty feet and crashed into the floor far below!

DM Note- Karazikar's saving throw is +7 vs this. So of course I rolled a 4! The goat had, I dunno, 10 HP. It fell, took damage, and the remaining damage went to the beholder. I did some quick math. 520 feet fall = 52d6. 52x3.5 = 182 damage, -10 from the goat = 172 damage. The beholder had 8 HP left!

Willow peered down into the darkness. Ser Valerius sword burst once more into brilliance. He held it over the side of the ledge. The momentary silence was cut short by a croaking voice echoing from below, "How dare you! You will never take my modron!" They could barely make out the shape of the injured beholder far below flying into a side passage.

Ser Valerius, Pain, Ront, and Willow began their descent down each ring. Feral and Peebles stayed behind on the top level. Their way was constantly hindered by grabbing tendrils every minute or two. In addition, several spots on the wall opened into small eyes and blasted a member of the expedition with one of the beholder's magical eye rays.

The expedition reached the fourth level down when Karazikar and the surviving invisible stalker reappeared from below.

A long fight ensued as Karazikar used his disintegration beam to destroy a section of floor beneath the expedition. He then maneuverd to hover fifteen feet over a section of ledge about sixty feet away.  Ser Valerius found himself trapped on the far side of the gap. Ront and Pan were on the near side and charged at the beholder. Willow fell through the gap, landing badly on the next level down.

The beholder pointed the anti-magic gaze of his central eye at Willow and stayed out of reach of the orc and halfling who were skilled hand-to-hand fighters but ill equipped for ranged fighting.

The invisible stalker would harry Ront only to retreat after each attack.

Ront and Pain found themselves being constantly charmed, paralyzed, or petrified by the beholder's smaller eye stalks in addition to the occastional death ray, enervation, or disintegration beam.

Pain was charmed and unable to attack the beholder so he quickly developed a plan. He ran away to get some distance then turned and charged at Ront. He then used Ront's shoulders as a springboard to launch himself at Karazikar. Pain grabbed the hovering beholder in mid-air, grasping him in a tight hug.
Pain vs Karazikar
Pain wrestled with Karazikar to maneuver in front of the central eye. Despite Karazikar's struggling and writhing, Pain succeeded and stared squarely into the beholder's central eye. The anti-magic gaze of the beholder's central eye also cancels the effects of the beholder's own magic, so Pain was no longer charmed! Pain smiled, drew his short sword, and began stabbing the beholder.

DM Note- I liked the ingenuity of the solution. I had Pain make a DC 20 acrobatics check to leap onto the Beholder, then had him make contested Acrobatics checks to scramble around to get on the beholder's central eye, all of which played to Pain's strengths.

The beholder screamed in pain and moved out over the chasm. Pain ignored the danger and stabbed again, killing the beholder. The dead beholder plummeted 160 feet to the floor with Pan holding on for dear life. The beholder and Pain hit the bottom of the shaft with a loud wet impact.

DM Note- Pain's player realized his dillema too late. Luckily he had the HP for it. I described the impact as the loud echoing "TANK!" of a dodge ball hitting cement.

Pain got up wheezing. He began cutting out the large central eye while the others ran down the stairs to join him. Peebles appeared out of nowhere and began cutting off eyestalks. Ront and Pain, in an effort to prevent Peebles from adding more power to his master, crushed the other eyestalks under their feet. In the end, Peebled managed to gather four eye stalks and ran away into the darkness shouting, "Thank youuuuu....!"

In the aftermath of the battle, several dishevelled figures began to appear from the various side tunnels. They were a mixture of dwarves, humans, a few elves, some drow, some quaggoth, some orogs, and some goblins. Many were disoriented as if waking from a long sleep. They ranged in age from the very young to adulthood. They were the slaves of Karazikar, magically dominated by Shedrak of the Eyes.

Shockingly, a few of the faces were familiar to the party! They were the members of the expedition that had mysteriously disappeared! They had been captured by invisible stalkers and brought here to act as slaves. They had no memory of where they are or what they were doing here.

These included:
Lhytris Ilgarn of the Black Cloaks of the Zhentarim. Zilna Oakshadow, Hilvius Haever, and Anzar the Brazen of the Lord's Alliance. Brim Coppervein and Thargus Forkbeard of the Emerald Enclave. Olaf Renghyi of the Order of the Gauntlet. Also found were Derendil and Amarith Coppervein.

Amarith and Brim hugged each other in a warm embrance, tearfully shouting, "NOBODY KILLS A COPPERVEIN!"
Amarith Coppervein

Brim Coppervein


Willow then took Pain through the shaft in the ceiling where they located a treasure room filled with piles of gold and platinum as well as a magical Robe of Eyes, a Gem of Seeing, and a Necklace of Adaptation.

A large round vault door was sealed shut and eluded Pain's attempts to open so Ront was brought up to force it open. The orc barbarian easily pulled the door open. Inside they found a strange creature. It had the body of a cube cut into two horizontal halves. The bottom half had to spindly legs. The top half had two spindly arms and wings as well as large eyes and a friendly mouth. The thing looked almost mechanical.

It spoke only in chirps, buzzes, and whistles and did not seem to be able to understand the language of its emancipators. When presented with the treasure room it immediately began neatly and efficiently sorting and stacking all the coins.

Willow knew the creature was a modron and that they came form the plane known as Mechanus but little else.

What did Karazikar want with the Modron? How can they speak with the Modron? What is the Maze Engine?

Find out next week!


DM Notes - I had a lot of fun with this encounter. I modified it to make it more of a challenge as well as add plot details to integrate it more with the campaign. The players later told me that this was a really fun encounter and that it was appropriately challenging. 

I'm glad. I was worried that a) it would end in a TPK, which it might have had I not halved the beholder's HP, and b) it would have ended in the first round with a polymorph, which it almost did! Luckily the beholder had enough HP to survive (seriously, PURE LUCK there!) and my giving him half HP for the second half of the fight was just the right amount. 

Also - Level up! Everyone is Level 11 now!