Monday, May 26, 2014

Jewels of the Carnifex (part 1) ~ 04.27.14

Wilber Wifflelinks: Halfling/3
Terezi: Thief/2
James (aka "Captain Bloodbeard"): Warrior/3
Remus (aka "Outlaw Lepus"): Cleric/2

Just the previous day, Magmar the Lucky had approached the party in the predicted locale (tavern) and fed them a couple rumors and a map with the request that Luthold the Mad be found. Magmar's the same one that tipped them off about Odo a while a back, so there was no reason to distrust him. A handful of the group took the bait map and trudged off to investigate (see entries for 04.13.14 and 04.27.14 [works in progress at the time of this post]).

Today, Magmar catches up with Terezi, a fellow member of the local Thieves' Guild. Magmar's looking more hungover than usual, and acting very guilty. It comes out that he may have sent her friends on a wild goose chase, because he has no idea what map he gave them. But this map is definitely the right one, and would they mind looking into it? Some brief "fact-checking" with the locals confirms some tidbits they'd heard before (an army of the finest noble sons disappeared beneath a chapel, and whatever ate them is still there; and the ruins are guarded, with occupied crow's cages warning others not to trespass). Other phrases -- "cult of executioners and torturers" and "jewels the size of my fist" -- were both worrying and intriguing.

Magmar beats feet, but not before being accosted by another member of the party, demanding to know where his friends are. [He joins in the next session.]

The map leads them underground below the sewer workings to a point where they can see the beginnings of a structure...across a gaping chasm. To make matters more challenging, one of the giant pipes above has burst, and a torrent of liquefied foulness spews into the unfathomable darkness below. All present brave the curtain of frozen yuck and leap across without aid from equipment (but not too proud to take the halfling's assistance). Clustered atop the small platform, cold and miserable and stinky, Terezi relights her lantern and realizes the engraved skull on the door before them is actually comprised of a mosaic of hundreds of tiny runes, forming a protective seal. She removes (and saves) a few of the lead fillings, and James muscles the door open. They have enough time to realize they're in a circular room, and as their eyes travel across the ceiling, they see an enormous, globule-covered monster perched above the door, sending a couple silken strands down toward them. James the Warrior wastes no time in using his two-handed sword to dislodge the thing, revealing a disgusting layer of pus on the ceiling and what appears to have once been a spider, now made immobile by its mutations, suffering on the floor. The others end it quickly.

The rounded room they're in covered from floor to ceiling with alcoves, each filled with humanoid skulls. The spiral staircase in the center of the chamber resembles vertebrae of a twisted spine. Terezi sneaks up it, thinking this is the way up to the ruins of the temple, but instead finds herself at a cave-in point with water trickling through the debris above onto the form of a humanoid "statue" that appears to be pinned between the rubble and the highest stair. The lawful thief decides her skin is worth more than anything shiny on the fossilized dead guy and carefully treads back down. Meanwhile, James lights a torch and Wilbur notices a pattern among the skulls: Each has been marked with a sigil of an animal and a date. The party gets pretty twitchy when the dates are revealed to be 200 to 500 years in the past, and they move on before Remus can get it into his head to bless every single one of them.

The stone stairs round down to a vaulted antechamber, nearly dark but for a pale green glow coming from the room beyond. The pillars here are carved into the image of terrified youths being dragged beneath the earth by skeletal hands. The party can't believe they're willingly in a place that would worship such an image. The hammered copper bowl containing wafers is eschewed, but the full skeletons lying on the floor get their attention. Their remains include suits of rusted armor and useless weapons, as well as holy symbols: Each had one of a three-headed raven, borne on silver chains. Remus recollects it as the sigil of the Carnifex. None of the six bodies seem to have worn a ring, however, so they are deemed "not princes or royalty", thus dismissing one of the rumors heard earlier. Terezi takes one of the chains. Immediately they hear whispers from the shadows: "We must usher the faithless on to their reward." With Vinnie (the skull atop Wilber's helm that acts as his Chaos Detection Warning Plan) glowing from the eye sockets, Remus is the only one without a light source and the shadowy figures set upon him at once. Remus reaches for his own holy symbol and attempts [for the first time ever] to turn the unholy beings from their course. Four dark forms race along the ceiling in the direction from which the party came, disappearing around the bend. A shade approaches Remus from the shadows, sliding its frozen touch across the cleric's face [stat drain: -1 Str and -2 Sta]. James slices at another, and it wisps away to nothing. Remus nearly destroys the last one before it can flee [rolling a 25 to Turn Unholy]. He waits a moment to make sure they are gone, then blesses the remains of the six bodies while praying his own damage is less permanent.

All too happy to be done with that, Wilber rushes toward the next area, trying not to pay attention to the flaking murals of skeletons terrorizing the living. He finds himself in an entryway of sorts, with three doors before him. The green glow is coming from a mist emanating from the third door, one of clay depicting an old, squat man with large, sad eyes. When the others catch up, they agree that the images on the other two doors look far more ominous. No hinges are visible on this door, so Wilber reaches to touch it. The old man on the face exhales glowing tendrils of mist, which transform into thick tongues and grab for Remus and Terezi. Well, this is clearly something unholy and unnatural. As soon as the other three get attacks in, Remus turns the frog demon in the name of Aristemis [nat 20].

{end of session ... continued on 05.25.14}

Jewels of the Carnifex - Harley Stroh / Goodman Games

Post-adventure math:
Wilber: +7 XP
James: +7XP
Terezi: +7 XP
Remus: +7 XP, +1 Luck

PARTY LOOT:  1 holy symbol (Carnifex)

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