So…I’m going to try and wrap up a bit of what’s been going on after the last couple sessions. I didn’t really have time to stop and write about the last few…
So, where to begin?
After sinking the tower that Akili and Ghoudy lived in on accident, thus dispelling the whirlpool that was at the outlet of the two great rivers from the mountains, we had to deal with a very ANGRY Akili and Slotek.
[The party managed to dispel the whirlpool by sucking its energy up into the meteorite metal battery that powered their magical airship - I had already described how the magical energies of the two rivers that met at the confluence were being caused to rotate against each other, so when the party navigated the ship (in the water, not the air) into the whirlpool and started trying to suck up the energy I gave them a chance... and also warned them that if they failed their ship would be smashed to smithereens. Of course, they had a great string of luck rolling the dice, as they are wont to do, so I ruled that they had succeeded in stopping the whirlpool. What the party didn't know is that the stone spire that Old Man Gootie and Akili lived in was not actually sticking out of the bottom of the river, it was sticking up out of a large portal powered by the whirling water. So when the whirlpool was stopped, the portal closed and the top of the stone spire that protruded into this dimension was severed and began to fall over into the river. - Carl]
Akili had Slotek poised to leap at our ship and destroy us. However, Beautiful Bob managed some awesome diplomacy and kept her from destroying us right out. She was currently sated, but worried because (although she didn’t say it) we had sealed Ghoudy in the portal that was at the bottom of the whirlpool, allowing the tower to come through and causing the whirlpool to begin with. Apparently we also sealed all her food stores in there as well. She was slowly reverting to her most insatiable self, and we had to think fast! She wanted our big meteorite battery that we had just fully charged on whirlpool energy because it would sustain her for months! Well, we weren’t about to give up our awesome air ship just yet….so, Antillia quickly offered her a lightning beetle (powerful magical creatures that they are) and she was sated for the time being. That gave Bob and the rest of us the opening to negotiate a cease fire and Antillia said she had the means of traveling through time (using some fungus she found early on in the adventure), however, it could potentially be fatal if consumed. Antillia had learned of the first weave of shadow from Ghoudy and decided with Akili’s help (who had a mass amount of knowledge) that she might be able to create a portal in the shadow realm, using the fungus in the weave, which stretched back in time. So, with Beautiful Bob’s help, Antillia had Akili attach a pseudo pod to the albino minotaur’s head. (These pseudo pods allow her to control anyone they are attached to and basically take control of all their actions. Antillia was gambling that she could also transfer her knowledge/memories through the link). Beautiful Bob busted out his Tower of Iron Will to filter the transmission….Antillia cringing (having tried this before on the alien space sphere and failing) because she thought her head might explode. Antillia took this chance to bust out her d30, hoping for the best….rolling 23 she sighed with some relief, but then Carl rolled for Akili…………NAT 20! Antillia’s player (me) jumped with delight and let out a yelp of joy! Beautiful Bob was able to keep the minotaur’s head from exploding and Akili was able to transfer her vast amount of knowledge into the mind of Antillia. Now, this allowed Antillia a nice bonus on making the portal…which turned out to be a DC50 Arcana check. (Holy Cow! No pun intended!) So, with Akili’s help the minotaur was able to meet the DC. We entered the portal…but messing with time is never easy…..
Our first attempt was to simply have Akili go into the temple and let the old version of herself know the outcome of leaving the temple early. Antillia shot her with a dose of meteorite energy to last her a week, so that the old Akili wouldn’t go crazy and eat everyone. Meanwhile, we also gave her a lightning beetle to breed inside the temple over the thousand years or so….and Antillia set up a regular meeting time in the shadow world (because time flows strange there) so that she could keep the old Akili company every year or so. (This would turn out to only be a passing of a few moments in the shadow world to Antillia) After some debate on whether to change anything else….Antillia arguing that we should save some other historical flops we had committed, but it was concluded that we shouldn’t mess with much of anything else. So, we zipped back through the portal and left the Akili of our time in the past, after instructing the Akili of the past on what to do. Coming out of the portal we noticed Slotek, wondering where his mother was…but looking remarkably different. Still mentally delayed, but a bluish color and a different power keeping him from being the great river spirit he needed to be. Through some handy psychic investigation by Bob we found it was the spirit beetles, that the Akili of the past had decided to start eating them and had binged on them for hundreds of years, not needing the dolphin consumption ritual to gain the power to give birth to Slotek. However, she was now addicted to spirit beetles (lightning beetles) and so was Slotek. We all let out a long sigh, trying to puzzle out ways to fix the problem….we thought if we could put her to sleep she wouldn’t go crazy from being alone and find Ghoudy and used him to do crazy things…then it hit us like a bolt of lightning! We had taken the rest of that sleeping potion from the temple! (The potion that Beautiful Bob took a sample of and it almost put him into a coma for 1000 years!)
[This potion was from the 1e adventure "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan", from the room where two monks slumber eternally unless attacked, and a potion vial with dust in it can be reconstituted to form a potion of eternal sleep. I had a ton of fun making some 4e monks to kick the party's ass with, which is exactly what happened when they decided to decapitate the sleeping monks before they could do anything to the party! At least the party ended up with the potion after getting their rear ends handed to them, as it now came in very handy. - Carl]
So, Antillia went to her first meeting with the Akili of the past and gave her the potion to drink! She then stepped out to see that Slotek was gone, the Ghoudy of the past was met with the Akili of our time and that wrapped everything up nicely. The Akili of the past was still asleep in the temple and we were able to convince the dolphins to remove the curse from Akili of our time because they didn’t know what she had done in the first place to get it. (Seeing that we had removed that happening from the time line) Ghoudy and Akili went off to live happily ever after and we were set with a new mission….go to the temple and wake Akili so she could create the true river god being.
[I was pretty sure the party could not avoid a combat with Akili and Slotek, which would have ended very badly for the party. However, once the idea of travelling through time was brought up and the characters told Akili that they could journey back and prevent the terrible curse of gluttony from ever afflicting her, she was all ears. This session was very tough for me to DM, because Antilia's player (the writer of this blog post) wanted to go back in time and change all sorts of things the party had done, most notably releasing the elder jellyfish god Kariki Kalos from its temple prison. I didn't want to just use DM's fiat to say "No, you can't do this", but I did hint around that the more the party messed with time, the more unintended consequences would happen and the crazier the results would be. In the end, Beautiful Bob's player managed to convince Antilia's player that they should limit their messing around with time to one brief mission and get back. Phew! - Carl]
That ended the first of the three sessions…on to the next!
A SINKING FEELING(OF DEVILS AND COWS)
So, having successfully (or at least, it seems that way) helped Akili, we were all patting each other on the back and trying to decide whether to approach the island or not when a jolt went through all of us. We felt a disturbance so profound it rocked Bob’s psyche. Antillia immediately went into the spirit world to see what was going on, being more perceptive there to the disturbance. She followed it to it’s source and found out that Kariki’Kalos (the giant jellyfish squid elder god thing) had sunk the entire continent that it had been attacking. Basically half the known world was now under water!
[I had been rolling some dice at the beginning of each session after the party had released Kariki Kalos, to represent the battle between the elder squid god and the cadre of lich priests that had originally imprisoned it, and who set out after it as soon as the party released it. I rolled a d20 for each side, and whichever side won, I recorded it as a minor victory. When a natural 20 was rolled, I rolled a second d20, looking for a second natural 20 to represent a total victory. At the beginning of this session, I finally got two 20's in a row for Kariki Kalos. Game over, man. - Carl]
The disturbance was the profound loss of life and some strong souls were trying to cling on in the spirit world. Antillia approached one of these powerful ones and attempted to feed it some of her energy to help it materialize, hoping to help at least one or two people. However, much to her surprise, it turned out to be a devil! It laughed and possessed her (by continuing to absorb the force she was feeding it and increasing the flow!), which caused her to go crazy on the boat. Her eyes began to glow red and she began speaking in a demonic tongue on the boat, cutting her hand with a longsword and etching a rune of summoning on the boat’s surface. Hammer, always quick to the draw, wrapped his arms around her and bear-hugged her into submission so Chmee (our Artificer) and Beautiful Bob could figure out what was going on and de-possess her. Carl was quickly reading through the effect, learning it was permanent with no save, until he caught the line “the only way to break the possession is by grappling the opponent”. We all laughed, but even with the devil expelled, the summoning rune pulled two ice devils into existence to fight us with the disembodied humanoid dragon-like devil. Chmee quickly threw down his all-seeing eye artifice that allowed everyone to see the dragon-like devil, which Beautiful Bob and Hammer made quick to weaken by pounding him pretty good. Antillia decided to try something, since she had felt the draw of energy during her spirit travel and had felt him sucking away her energy, she decided to try reversing the effect on the dragon-like devil with a malevolent nut!
[The malevolent nuts are the product of a twisted tree that grows on the site of a terrible wrong. The nuts suck in the soul of anything that dies nearby, preventing it from travelling to the afterlife, instead imprisoning it in a hell-like subdimension. This was the first attempt to use a nut in combat to suck the soul out of a creature in combat, and as I am wont to do, I allowed it to happen, albeit with a slim chance of success. Subsequently, the party tried to use the nuts to just one-shot every powerful creature they encountered, and I ended up ruling that the nuts could only be used on a creature that was already defeated. - Carl]
With a battle of wills, Antillia successfully sucked the dragon-like creature’s energy, using the nut to filter out his personality so she could directly absorb his power. This left Hammer, Chmee, and Bob facing two ice devils and they immediately set in on one of the two. Hammer made a ridiculously good roll and cleaved into it, his damage flowing like a river to wash away it’s hp. Chmee had a bit of trouble hitting and Bob attacked it’s will causing it to attack itself! Needless to say it was feeling the pain, bloodied and then some. The other devil made a break for our power core and tried to attack it, failing to do any significant damage to our relief. Antillia ran to that one and managed to use the same tactic, sucking him dry and storing his personality in a malevolent nut. She let out a cackle using the power to infuse her voice and the other ice devil looked disturbed by this turn of events. Hammer, Chmee, and Beautiful Bob managed to knock it unconscious and Antillia repeated the “soul suck” on it. She handed one of the ice devil nuts to Beautiful Bob who interrogated it psychically and found out who it worked for, why it was there, and left it with a warning for the Great Devil it worked for. He then opened a portal to the layer of Hell it was from and sent it through. After this, we were all pretty winded…but we decided to put some of the power we had gained to use. Antillia used the power of the ice devils to imbue her Winter’s Herald with extra strength, allowing the difficult terrain to expand out to five squares from two. She also gained an Aura 2 slow effect that persists outside of the form. Beautiful Bob decided to use his d30 to see if he could gleam some insight into the malevolent nuts and what would happen if you ate one with a soul trapped inside. (such as the devils) He lived up to his reputation and rolled a natural 30, giving him the insight and ability to eat a nut and substitute one of his powers of equal or higher level for powers from the being inside the nut. However, each nut that you consumed also lowers your will defense by 2. A hefty price to pay, but worth it if you find the right nut!
So we rested up and ended the second of three gaming nights that I am catching up on….and so the last night came.
ALIEN ISLANDS AND WHISTLING NATIVES
We had come back to the game shortly after Beautiful Bob had learned the secrets of the nuts. We decided it was time to try and approach the mysterious island with the temple that held Akili of the past and wake her up, then figure out how to help her make the great river creature. So, we kicked our air ship into full blast and shot for the island…as we approached Antillia noticed the black and white clay sphere she had began to vibrate. It turns out the white monkey statue in the middle was harmonizing to an unseen and unheard frequency. As she was puzzling over it, Nima appeared with Dwarmel on her shoulder.
Now, taking a side step from the story to introduce Nima, because some of you probably have no idea who she is. Nima is an interesting person…she can apparently physically enter and leave the spirit world and travel wherever she wishes. We first met her in the fierce people’s village and according to Ti’tsua (Antillia’s shi’bori teacher) she has been able to do so since birth. When we first ran into her in the spirit realm she had a strange lemur-like creature on her shoulder that she called Dwarmel. Apparently he accompanied her in the spirit world at all times. We still aren’t sure where she falls into things, but she is an outsider to everyone and only seemed to converse with Ti’tsua on a semi-regular basis.
[I have used Neema and Dwarmel as a sort of DM's cheat, a couple of NPCs that can appear and give insight to the party and drive the story along in interesting directions. I have a back story for them that has never really been fully discovered by the party. - Carl]
So back to the story….she appears on our ship, much to our surprise with Dwarmel on her shoulder. This being the first time we’ve seen him outside the spirit world. Antillia studied her for a moment with her new-found spirit/shadow sight lenses she created and discovered that Nima is actually blind and Dwarmel works as her eyes. Antillia was a bit shocked by this and was mulling it over, meanwhile the subject of the vibrating statue came up and the worry that something was approaching. Nima laughed at us a bit and held one up to Dwarmel's eyes, saying it wasn’t a ward but a lens. Antillia strapped one to her head over her left eye and used it to look around. Everything seemed dark, but when she looked upon the Baddy-Baddy island it suddenly came into focus. (Previously being completely chaotic and full of random imagery and energy) This gave Antillia and the rest of the party the ability to look upon some large albino four-armed cyclopean apes, who we learned were the Gadoro. They stood in a triangular pattern, one ape taking up each corner and they sang in a chorus. One would start up a vibration/hum of a certain tone, then stop as the next picked it up. When they made their sound the area around them on the island would become lush Amazonian landscape, but when it faded it would turn dark and almost barren for a split second. The party tried to decipher the sounds of their song but failed.
As soon as we crossed the threshold of the island everything suddenly went silent, Antillia got a strong sick feeling of being pushed away like we didn’t belong (a natural feeling at that) and we were assaulted by a pack of small Gadoro images. It turns out they were projections of some other Gadoro we didn’t see and they kept coming by bunches of six at a time! They were minions, but they could do a nasty attack where they turned into a beam of energy and blasted into you. It would kill the minion, but put a nice hole in your body. They could also shove you around with a normal attack and they managed to throw Beautiful Bob off our boat, who made a daring athletics check to catch himself in a tree. Antillia used her “shield-like” flying device to fly to Bob and blow him a floating bubble from the Horn of Kariki-Kalos, which gave him a way to move around unless the Gadoro images popped it. Shortly after that Hammer was thrown from the boat as Antillia flew back up, leaving her the only one on the vessel. With some lucky rolls she managed to maneuver the flying ship to swoop down and pick up Hammer with the attached side nets, before flying away from the island. She then left Hammer to recover from his ordeal (having been thoroughly punched with holes from the Gadoro images beam attack) and used her flying shield to head towards Bob who was persistently trying to tap into the trees with his psychic powers and find out what was going on. Suddenly the landscape began to change and the Gadoro began gathering on a cliff face and singing a mournful dirge. The trees began turning into these pink fleshy tentacles with a metallic coating, the ground made up of the same metallic coating. Beautiful Bob not one to miss a beat, tried to tap into the tentacle to make it his friend but it rejected him and he got an image that the thing the tentacle was connected too was much older than our universe. Surrounded by walking tentacles that were getting ready to pummel them to death, Antillia and Bob were stranded. Antillia used her shape shifting powers (sacrificing one of her dailies) and attempted to commune with the Gadoros and become one of them. Using her d30 she rolled a 25 on the nature check that Carl let her make. Success! (Thanks to her high Nature skill) Antillia changed into a Gadoro, but it didn’t have the effect she hoped for though immunity to falling damage would be handy! Antillia then used her Burst of Nature to convert two of the tentacles back into real trees and the area around Bob and herself, buying them both time to get the hell out of that crazy place! So she grabbed Bob and flew up to the Gadoros, telling them their reasons for being there. The big Gadoro told us we needed to seek those who still knew the old songs to prove we were worthy of being on that island. So taking a hint, we left…though we did learn there was a ritual performed daily by the Gadoro that was a sort of key to the island. Anyone in on the ritual would be able to enter the island without triggering its defenses. Apparently the metal tentacle, barren, alien landscape was only one version of the island and thanks to Bob tapping into it we could tell there was another reality to the island locked away from us. So Antillia and Bob returned to the air ship and we left the island, our heads hung a bit low as we were humbled by such a display of power and unable to make much progress on the island. However, we knew where to go….and it was actually where we had planned to go before going to the island in the first place.
We were off to see the Song People that Ti’tsua had told us about. They supposedly had some knowledge of the island and might even give us some insight into the songs of power the Gadoro said we should learn. So we follow the river that the Song People supposedly lived along and stopped at the first village we came to. First thing we noticed is that the Song People all looked emaciated and had smoke rising up off of them constantly. The older they were the more emaciated they looked. When they saw us they all made some sharp whistling sounds to warn the other villagers. They also had some well tended to gardens of small white peppers and some berry plants. They seemed extremely friendly and outgoing and Beautiful Bob got us off on the right foot with his gleaming smile and charming demeanor. Antillia asked them about their peppers and even had a chance to look them over. They were happy to show her their gardens and were incredibly proud of the well-tended plants. It turns out the peppers drew a lot of nutrients from the soil and the berry plants replenished those nutrients and kept the soil fresh. The soil also seemed to be imported from somewhere else, as this was not the natural growing area for these peppers. Hammer asked if he could try one and the villagers warned him of the heat, but Hammer chomped down on one with confidence. Soon after he spewed gouts of flame from his mouth and took some fire damage from the pepper. We all had a good laugh and Hammer mentioned making pepper spray out of the peppers to blind our enemies. However, we were soon greeted by the village leader who was dressed in finery and had magical rubies in the holes in his teeth that produced different tones of whistles. Apparently all the villagers had holes cut in their teeth and by plugging certain holes with their tongue they could create different song-like tones. We also discovered that the chiefs, or leaders, of the villages got in that position based on the “Big Man” principle of leadership. Basically, the person who can call on the most resources (Most men during a time of war, most food during a time of starvation, etc.) at one time became respected and elevated to a position of leadership. The session ended shortly after they invited us to a feast they were planning for the evening where some of the boys of the village would be elevated to adults. Though we did manage to pick up the fact that these people consumed the peppers on a regular basis and it was a sacred plant to them. We all were left with a sense of awe and determination to find the secrets of these people. Not to mention a mighty hunger for some super peppers…
Well, that was a lot to write up…but it wraps up the 3 sessions I was behind! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we all did playing it!