Sunday, we played some D+D. Actually, it was relatively light on the doom. Doom was there, though!
Despite half their number being teleported away (or possibly disintegrated), the party continued to fight the green-shard golem, and even managed to take out all its supporting orbs... which did not power it down, as they'd hoped. Instead, it powered it up, and it quickly zapped everyone else except for Heyyou, who tried to do hit and run attacks for a while, but eventually got zapped as well.
They all found themselves (one at a time, as they were zapped) in a huge pit full of skeletons. Dead, inanimate skeletons, on top of a layer of ooze that was gross but didn't really do anything. Dozens of minor magical items were scattered through the pile, but nothing really *useful*. The walls of the pit were a pale green, matching the color of the golem, and Asm (or somebody) recognized that the shape of the pit was reminiscent of a large jewel that had been set in the golem's chest. They'd been imprisoned!
Every so often, the bones would shift -- rotating around like a pile of bones in the feed hopper for a big bone-compactor. Two sarcophogi didn't move when that happened -- they were set into the ground! One of them had a massive gem set in the lid, which Beware tried to pry out, only to stop as the lid shifted. Distracted, they prepared for a fight and then gathered around to open the lid, and faced the menacing...
Asm went in front to check for traps, and did indeed find and avoid a trap. At the bottom of the stairs was a curvy passage, a little too low to be comfortable for most of the party (except for Warren the gnome) -- like an air shaft, almost. Eventually they came to an intersection where a vertical passage went up and down as far as they could see. Heyyou climbed up and found a staircase with a set of double doors. He dropped a rope and they followed up him, through the doors, into a temple of Dumothoin, the dwarven god of secrets.
The temple had a platform with a pentagram on it and an altar, two statues of dwarved dual-wielding hammers with the symbol of Dumathoin, and two sarcophogi with ornate religious symbols all over them. And two more doors. One of the doors was fake, and burned anyone who tried to open it. One of the doors opened to a hallway that stretched into darkness. Asm and Varnix started down the hallway, only to discover that the darkness was a solid wall.
Beware volunteered to step into the darkness ("It's probably just wafer thin.") but tied a rope to himself just in case -- Varnix retreated to the temple to hold it steady. He stepped into the darkness... and as he touched it, the floor fell out, dumping him and Asm into a pit. Asm managed to avoid most of the spikes at the bottom, and Beware was saved by his rope. After being hauled out, Beware tried jumping across the pit, but the wall of darkness was backed up by a wall of stone, and he wile-e-coyoted into it and then fell into the pit again. Oops. At least the rope kept him from slamming into the spikes.
Meanwhile, Heyyou was playing with the altar. Stepping into the pentagram made it glow with magic that Ariel thought was probably transportation magic of some sort, and the altar looked like a possible trigger. But nothing that Heyyou tried dropping on the altar teleported him out.
Beware tried pulling the hammer-arms of the statues, and yes! They were levers! Doing... something involving grinding gears, behind that blank wall. Examining the wall carefully revealed a secret passage, with a portcullis that the levers opened. Asm explored it, and found that it led to a staircase with colorful tiles. Trial and error revealed that the green tiles were safe, but at the top was another portcullis. However, there was a lever between the two portcullises that toggled the state, and another lever at the far end that toggled the state, so it wasn't really much of a barrier.
Before leaving the temple, Beware looted the sarcophogi and found some highly magical shields, weapons, and plate mail armor. Heyyou (the only plate user) put on one of the suits of armor, and discovered that it was very very protective, but... also cursed! He couldn't take it off. "Oh no! I'm forced to keep using... this very powerful magic item. Huh."
So, having desecrated the tombs, the party moved carefully up the stairs and found two doors, one that looked like it led to a crypt, the other turned out to lead to a well. Ariel advanced to examine the well, and wraiths came out! Two ran off through the walls, the third attacked! And didn't last long, despite its incoporeality. Unfortunately, the two that had run off had just run to the crypt to wake up the death knight and his wight underlings.
After the two forces quickly locked in melee in the narrow hallway, Asm teleported the death knight down the stairs, hoping that on the way back up he'd trigger the traps. Instead, he fireballed the party, not only badly hurting several people, but lighting his wights on fire and making them more dangerous to melee with. Varnix responded with radiant glows that withered the undead, but as they wailed in pain they did *more* damage to everyone and gave each other N*(N-1) free attacks. (Luckily for the party, N was only 3, and the wraiths were dead and the death knight was too far away to get free attacks) Oh, and they healed each other.
[The parallels to the ghouls from Praetoria were discussed at length.]
But Varnix kept everyone alive and well, and the wights and wraiths were vanquished, and the death knight couldn't fireball very often and had to run up the stairs -- but he knew the secret too. So Beware summoned a tidal wave to knock him down the stairs, and as he rolled he set off a bunch of traps. ZAP ZAP ZAP.
That wasn't quite enough to kill him though, and he fireballed the party once more before they finished him off. Afterwards, Warren examined the water, and came back up claiming to feel 'refreshed'. "You should all try it! It's great!" He wasn't able to explain exactly how it was great. Beware and Ariel were curious enough to try it as well, but also couldn't explain just why they felt 'better' now. That was enough to convince Heyyou, Varnix, and Asm to NOT go in.
They also noticed that the coffin in the death knight's crypy was *not* open, and inside was, yes, another stairway. But before exploring it, they headed back to the temple to try offering some magic water from the well. Nope! After the test, Beware splashed the water all over Varnix, but it didn't work outside the well. Curses!
Since Dumathoin was the god of secrets, they tried whispering secrets to the altar, but... no. As everyone gave up and turned to leave, Beware (who normally was their rear-guard) secretly offered something he was carrying to the altar (thinking perhaps that an offering in secret was the key), and -- it worked! He swiftly and silently vanished away.
Of course, it worked because he'd coincidentally (and randomly) offered a valuable gem. Which, since he'd done it in secret, no one else knew.
The party had a big brainstorming session, and decided that it had to be some random item related to Dumathoin that Beware was carrying. Eventually, Varnix made the connection -- Dumathoin was also the god of gems, and while there were NO GEMS AT ALL in the random loot from the skeleton pit they'd been trying, Beware had had several that they'd last offered as an unsuccessful bribe to the giants.
It was worth a try, anyway, so they finally went back and pried the giant emerald out of the coffin lid in the skeleton pit, and as they all huddled on the transport platform, Heyyou dropped it into the offering bin. And vanished away, silently. Leaving the other four behind. And out of usable gems (they had some little ones, but they were too little to work).
With some trepidation, Asm, Varnix, Ariel, and Warren continued on to the crypt staircase, hoping that there were more gems in there *somewhere*. What they found was a hallway full of creepy paintings in pairs across the hall -- one had a beholder on one side facing a pot of gold on the other, the second pair had an icy archon facing a fiery demon, then a room full of gems facing a mirror, and the fourth a room full of gems with a Remoraz in it facing a blank white painting. ("A yeti in a snowstorm flanked by his polar-bear minions.")
The paintings didn't have anything hidden *behind* them -- they were hung on nails, and could even be moved -- so they figured out that they could probably jump *into* them. Warren went first, jumping into the mirror -- and immediately flying back out, as if he'd bounced off something inside. "Well, that didn't do anything." Varnix was suspicious, though -- something about his seemed off.
Ariel was curious, and jumped into the mirror as well -- and bounced. "Huh, I didn't see anything in there before getting sent back out. Damn."
Warren decided that the paintings probably depicted exactly what they showed, so he went to the gems-and-monster painting ("It's guarded, so it has the best gems, right?") and went inside with Ariel to fetch some gems -- Varnix insisted that the two mirror-bounced people do it, incase the mirror was some sort of pre-set that let you go into the other paintings safely, or something.
That was his excuse, anyway -- but as soon as the two mirrored-people jumped in, he grabbed the mirror off the wall and held it in place over the treasure-room painting so that when they came out they'd pop back into the mirror. And it worked! The mirror-people grabbed gems, leapt out into the mirror, and 'they' were ejected back into the treasure room, where a very confused Ariel and Warren -- who thought they'd just jumped into a mirror -- grabbed a few gems and scrambled out, dodging the Remoraz which was now very close!
Comparing notes, it was obvious that, yes, the mirror-people had been dopplegangers or something, and Varnix had saved the real pair from imprisonment. Since the dopplegangers had chosen the dangerous painting to fetch gems from, Asm and Varnix went into the other painting with gems and got a few more -- and had to run from a hidden Remoraz in that room as well. All the gems were guarded!
Back at the altar, the gems from the painting the mirror-people had led them to were, in fact, fake. But the other gems were real, and they were able to escape the temple and rejoin Heyyou and Beware.
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