Terrycloth (terrycloth) wrote,

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Sequence Breaking. What a surprise!

Last Saturday I finally ran another session of the pathfinder campaign. The party wanted a dungeon crawl, so I tried to give them one, and to fight undead as they were easier than golems, although of course Lilia insisted she'd be useless because she couldn't use her charm spells on them.

Sam sent his familiar Max into the abadoned church to scout for enemies, invisibly. Max spotted a bunch of shadows hiding behind pillars, so Liliana cast a daylight spell to illuminate the room, and then everybody rushed in to attack.

There were a lot of shadows. Most of them were the pathetic 3 HD standard shadows, that almost everyone could one-shot, but one was a demonic spellcasting shadow who cast a cone Fear spell and frightened away Sam since he was the only one not to make his save. Unfortunately, the daylight enraged the shadows and they mindlessly attacked the nearest target, which was Hadriel all out in front on his own. His thick armor did not protect him, and despite being weak and pathetic, they managed to take him to -1 strength, and he died.

Eric: "What do you mean? 0 STR is paralyzed, not dead."
Me: "Shadows kill you if they reduce you to zero strength. They turn you into another shadow in... *looks it up* 1d4 rounds."
Tom: "Is there any way to save him?"
Me: "Well, if you restore his strength above zero before he turns into a shadow he'll just be dead and you can raise him. If you cast lesser restoration and breath of life both this round, he'd even be alive."
Ed: "Except that he was the cleric."
Eric: "This is so unfair! If we'd known shadows could *kill* us we would have used completely different tactics."
Me: "I kind of thought that was common knowledge? What did you think they were trying to do, tickle you?"

At any rate, Liliana went berzerk at the loss of her cohort, and used an Undeath to Death spell to instantly kill every undead in the room, including the boss. She then used a scroll to save Hadriel from undeath, barely making her use magic device check, and teleported him to Crossroads to be raised.

Sam inspected a darkly glowing, floating class sphere that had appeared when the boss was killed, and while it seemed to resist identification, it was obviously cursed and powerful. Probably not safe to carry. Talon, searching for secret compartments in the altar the boss had been hiding behind, found a very well-hidden compartment with a magical artifact of good that the undead had apparently been unable to corrupt -- a tome of worship of the god of the sun, the sort of thing that in the wrong hands would easily start a cult.

The priest in crossroads listened to Sam's description of the orb, and thought that it sounded like one of the holy orbs of the same god, powerful artifacts, now apparently corrupted. There were a total of four of them, and the devout thing to do would be to destroy them.

The next day, with Hadriel raised and a couple of scrolls of Death Ward in hand (and a wand of lesser restoration) in case of more shadows, they returned to the church. The orb was not where they left it, and strange mystical-looking graffiti had been scrawled all over the interior of the church, although Liliana was able to identify it as the first-year wizarding student textbook's answer key transcribed in order to look 'spooky'.

Stairs down led to a catacomb full of skeletons in niches, which of course animated and started to attack. There were too many for them all to get up at once, so it was instead more of an endless stream of undead awakening and attacking in a continuous wave. Fireballs and channelled bursts of positive energy fried the undead in their niches and shut down most of the generators, and they let Hef take on the last few (hundred) skeletons as they inspected the secret door in the middle of the catacomb that they'd spotted during the battle.

Talon: "The door is here, but it looks like the trigger to open it is elsewhere."
Liliana: *casts Knock*

The secret door's mechanism was ruined by the spell forcing it open, but it opened enough for them to squeeze down into a twenty-foot diameter shaft with spiralling stairs around the outside, and the occasional door.

They went throug the first door, into a room with winding walkways over a dark pit, full of shadows. Hef was strength-drained considerably before they could get a death ward on him, and this time there were *two* spellcasting shadows to make will saves against, but they were taken down before they could get in range of their fear cone at least and all the single-target domination and suggestion ("You'd be safer if you jumped into the pit!") spells were resisted.

Killing the boss monsters revealed the same orb from last time. Sam fired a beam of fire at it to see if it could be destroyed by normal means, and sure enough, it could and was. The residue didn't look magical at all.

They decided to skip the rest of the doors and go straight to the bottom of the shaft, where they found a gargantuan stone golem taking the place of one wall, with four empty eye sockets about the size and shape of the orb they'd just destroyed. Oops. Trying to search the golem-door for a way past resulted in the party being pushed away firmly but politely. Trying to attack it with an axe resulted in Hef being grabbed and crushed half to death before Sam could touch him and teleport him -- into the teleport trap.

Also known as the 'Chamber of Ghosts'. It was another twenty-foot diameter shaft, full of ghosts, specifically the ghosts of dire lions and a dire bear. After some corrupting touch and charisma-drain shenanigans, and a couple fear-inducing howls, Sam had Talon (who'd come with them just in case it was dangerous) in a resiliant sphere, while he and Hef were death-warded against most of the ghosts' attacks. Eventually, they cleared them all out, and found another orb -- also cursed and dark, but slightly different in detail.

Sam dispelled the teleport trap and teleported back to the shaft. He was almost out of spells, but decided to try to dimension door past the golem now that it was 'safe'. Unfortunately, 50 feet past the golem was solid rock, and the 'random empty space within 100 feet' turned out to be a chamber full of, surprise surprise, undead!

This time, a gigantic undead dragon (with one eye replaced with yet another orb) which pounced on Hef and paralyzed him, and after Talon almost but not-quite killed the dragon with one volley of arrows, the pair of skeletal tyrannasaurus rexes accompanying it caught him and Sam in their teeth, preparing to swallow them whole next turn.

Sam: "So... what's the concentration DC to cast a verbal-only spell while grappled?"
Me: "It says here that it's equal to the CMD of the monster grappling you. So, 42."
Sam: "What? That's insane!"
Talon: "That's it, we're dead. We can't get free against a score like that."
Me: "Yeah, Pathfinder grappling is somehow even more broken than 3.5 grappling. I didn't think that was possible but they found a way. But you're not dead, once you're swallowed whole you just have to make the DC against the ongoing damage."
Sam: "But I'll only be able to save myself..."
Me: "You're being swallowed whole by skeletons. You'll be able to see the others."

As it turned out, they were even less dead than that -- Max was able to share his 'gaseous form' ability with his master, and gaseous Sam was able to cast spells with no verbal, somatic, or material components, which (with the proper metamagic feats) included dimension door.

Since Sam was out of spells higher than second level, they decided to call it a day and retreat. A closer inspection of the second orb, combined with the first orb's fragility, revealed them to actually be normal glass balls with 1st level magic aura spells cast on them to make them look cursed and powerful -- so the destroyed orb could be replaced, and they could get past the golem if they were able to study the remaining orbs for a couple rounds. Or, well, slay the dragon. That was Talon's preference.

last session | next session

Paraphrased party babble: "These monsters are really unfair! With those grapple and strength drain and all that we can't really stand and fight them."
Me: "It's almost as if someone should have cast one of those summon elemental spells she'd memorized for the lack of anything better to cast against undead, and sent disposable minions in first to tank or something. Oh wait, you didn't even take her with you for most of the fights!"
Tags: pathfinder game summary
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