Yup, its been a while since I posted about my 4e campaign. That does not mean shit has not been happening! The party has finally made it across the imposing 30,000' tall mountain range to the verdant jungle beyond that slopes far away until it finally meets another ocean. Along the way, exploring a forgotten temple they found 20 miles under the mountain along the tunnel they were following, they accidentally released a great elder being.
I will have to do a separate post about this incident, or perhaps ask Mike (the player of Tilia the albino minotaur in the campaign) to write another guest blog post detailing his decision to drop a magical fungus (that he knew fed off of magical radiation and water and could grow with breathtaking rapidity in the right conditions) into a closed series of flooded tubing leading down to a contained elder entity that was doing very little else but radiate intense magical energy which was being trapped and siphoned by the magical wards and systems in place around it. This thing was called Kariki Kalos by those who built the temple and here is what it looks like (the jellyfish like cap is 3000' feet across, the main body from tentacle tip to the top of the cap is 3500', and the long stinging (radiant and lightning damage) tendrils stretch out up to 15,000' behind). A "light organ" inside the cap emits a burning beam of light and from each lidless eye (18 in all, in a circle around the gaping mouth) a ray of darkness is cast.
But that is not what I want to write about. On the other side of the mountain now, the party has taken up with one among many independent, but loosely organized (by kinship, trading and raiding ties), bands of an indigenous human population that call themselves "the fierce people". After an initial tense and frequently hostile confrontation with an overwhelming force of fierce warriors brandishing bows and blowguns, many with glowing red or black eyes and red or black slime oozing out of their noses, the party finally fell in with an older shabori (shaman) who had foreseen their arrival and was eager to question them.
The shabori, Titsi-Waa, somehow managed to intimidate the waitari (chieftain, literally "the fiercest") that was confronting the party. The shabori puffed himself up as much as his lame leg would allow, and then something strange happened. His chest began to expand and swell, as if something was inside it. Then his eyes flashed and the waitari big man backed down, called to his men, and ran off up the mountain pursuing the original mission of glorious death while fighting an awakened god.
While this was happening, Tilia pulled down the Goggles of Arcana that she had made last session (from small black crystal disks she discovered behind each of the 18 eyes surrounding the central mouth of the larval form of Kariki-Kalos - the party was beset upon by many of the 30' larval monstrosities, which emitted beams of darkness from their eyes and a blast of burning light from their horned tail). These give her a bonus to Arcana checks performed while attempting to diving the nature of a magical occurrence. Looking with "magic vision", she saw four tiny humanoid creatures (hekura) living inside the old shabori's chest. One of these was performing a magical incantation, growing and swelling and changing in form as it did so. Tilia was able to divine something of the rough nature of each hekura; one was a protective charm spirit, one (the active one) was a malicious curse spirit, one caused sickness and disease, and one cured such ailments.
Later the party learned that the hekura are a race of spirit beings that live in the spirit world. Places in the real world marked by large isolated boulders, or rocky mountain sides, are frequented by hekura in the spirit world. You cannot persuade hekura to live inside you by going to them in the physical world. You must visit them in the spirit world and sing to them and dance until they voluntarily enter your body, draining a small part of your physical essence but greatly enriching your ability to interact with the spirit world.
The fierce people visit the spirit world primarily through the use of a snuff made from the bark of the ebene tree ground and mixed with saliva and ash. This mixture is then dried and pounded to form a snuff that is shot through a tube into the nose of the recipient. There is no attack roll required to hit the recipient if the snuff is taken in this manner. Part of the inhaler's soul (the noreshi) leaves the body and, attached by an umbilical energy chord invisible to the inhaler and unbreakable to all others, must reside in the spirit world for 2d4 hours. If the noreshi wanders too far from the body and is lost, or cannot return in time, the noreshi can be come separated from the body and a serious and invariably fatal illness will set in unless the lost noreshi can be found and recaptured.
[mechanics sidebar: the cosmologies of my campaigns rarely resemble any printed "official" version too closely. In this case, you could think of the "spirit world" of the campaign as the shadowfell and feywild of 4e rolled into one, with a good dose of what the astral sea is supposed to accomplish in 4e as well.]
The party also eventually learned that the red and black eyes and snot of the warriors they encountered in the jungle (already ferocious looking with faces painted black and large plugs of tobacco in their lips) were caused by beings known as "snuff demons". Summoned by snuffs artfully composed of ground seeds and powders, the snuff demon marked by red eyes and mucous is known as an aihal and the one marked by sunken black eyes and dark mucous is known as aihan.
Snuff Demon Aihal
After being summoned inside the nasal passages, an aihal snuff demon grants the inhaler the ability to see in the dark as if it were daylight, +2 to hit and damage with basic ranged attacks and the ability to make an extra basic ranged attack once per round as a free action. Until the aihal is expelled in a dark red mass of goo, the inhaler take a -5 penalty to Will defense.
Snuff Demon Aihan
After appearing in the nasal cavities, aihan radiates a fear aura 2 in which all enemies take a -2 penalty to hit. The inhaler also receives +2 to hit and damage with basic melee attacks and the ability to make an extra basic melee attack once per round as a free action. Until the aihan is expelled in a black mass of goo, the inhaler take a -5 penalty to Will defense.
Little Magic Monkeys that grant you immortality if you eat their crushed bones:
Let me say here that my players have a nasty habit of rolling critical successes at all the critical times. Nat 20's, and even natural 30's on the once a session roll of the d30 that every player gets (check out my sidebar to the upper left, Order of the d30, if you don't know what I am talking about), abound in my game. Dunno how or why, this has just been one of the luckiest groups I have ever seen. So the group had just managed to somehow avoid a sure confrontation with an angry allosaurus that had ambushed them when they found themselves in the midst of a wildlife stampede. The fierce people had united when the side of the mountain blew off, and thousands of warriors beat drums and spears against trees as they marched to the mountain to do battle with the great god that was supposed to rise up during the end of the world. They drove the animals and dinosaurs of the jungle ahead of them.
Tilia, ever interested in collecting, examining and cataloguing the flora and fauna of the new world, took this opportunity to collect some animal species.
So Tilia rolls a nature check (I usually use checks like this as a rough barometer to see how well a player succeeds, rather than a simple yes/no, succeed/fail target number skill check) and gets a natural 20. I decide on the spot to introduce an interesting creature to the scene that I hadn't figured the players would run into for quite a while. Nearly impossible to catch, blindingly quick and possessing the ability to run on air as if it were solid ground, the tiny tsoru-tsoru (fast fast) monkey is as intelligent as a human but has a nearly immortal lifespan. Cooking a tsoru-tsoru in a stew, boiling it down until there is nothing left but bones, and then grinding those bones and eating the resulting paste grants near immortality and great resistance to physical and mental damage. The party learned this when the host village that they were staying at began loudly demanding that Tilia cook the tsoru-tsoru and share its bones.
A nature-lover through and through, and already aware of the creature's intelligence, Tilia was loathe to acquiesce to her hosts' demands but also wanted to avoid upsetting them. Tilia began questioning the monkey (with the aid of the comprehend languages ritual that has come in handy so many times for Beautiful Bob the face man of the group) and soon found out that the tsoru-tsoru (like all young adults of its species) had to remain in the jungle until it had caught enough "lightning bugs" to "last it a lifetime in the cloud city" where the tsoru-tsoru had "sorcerers more powerful than you can imagine". Some back and forth questioning with the village elders revealed that the lightning bugs spoken of by the monkey and a very valuable spirit creature called a spirit beetle by the elders were the same thing. Tilia arranged a deal where she would let the monkey go if he would promise to deliver a weeks catch of lightning bugs, which could apparently be used as one-use magical batteries, to add potency to a magical attack or effect or to create and power a one use magical device. This was made much more poignant by the presence of the pregnant mate of the capture monkey, who had followed the party through the jungle and was hiding out at the smoke hole rim of the thatched roof which enclosed the circular village. Reunited at last, the couple dissapeared into the jungle and the party turned their attention to more pressing matters...
Much more to come. Trying to even MENTION all the plot threads that are out there, just tempting the players with all their juicy glory, would take quite a while, let alone fully describing them.