Campaign of the Month: May 2016

Mysteria

Home Sweet Home

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After a sumptuous final feast at the Palace of Siwal, Arcael and the Oooze travelled by sandship to spend three glorious days in the capital NURIA NATAL, where they attended a performance at one of the arenas, and as part of the tour, visited The Hall of Stars (where every God-King’s name is carved into the Obsidian), the Embassy of the Sultan of the Oasis of Figs and the Emissary of the Spider-Prophet. They also spent a day at The Screaming Court where they witnessed fanatical cleric of Aten, Anwar el-Ibrahim being torn apart by a troop of vicious mandrills as his punishment for trying to kill the party during the CURSE OF THE HOWLING GOD. Each member of the party was given a Magical Image Papyrus that helped to enshrine their memories of THE SOUTHLANDS in material form. Highlight of the tour was a visit to the High Oracle of Nuria Natal where each character’s Divine Avatar presided over the dealing of cards from the Deck of Many Things.

The party then flew by Dwarven Airship all the way to Zobeck where they were met by Truman Click, Alexei Splitleaf of Allain and Tad Familiar and taken to their improved accommodation at 33 Kingston Lane to settle into “normal life” for the next nine years…

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Return to Sender

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With Xavier and Karn Gudin both annihilated by the Ushabti Guardians and the Dimensional Engine in the Pyramid of Black Sands, the party headed into the final room of the arcane building with two temporary allies. By the will of the Gods, dwarven paladin, Bobarus the XXIII and human oracle Karakay were not whisked away by the Dimensional Engine were able to accompany Arcael, Goran and Saabu Theet through the last doorway.

Goran avoided the first trap and led the way into a plain room with mystical hieroglyphs and double doors. The accomplished rogue dismantled yet another trap but failed to detect the double trap setup and triggered a Symbol. Luckily his essence endured and the others had had the good sense to remain some way behind, but on the sudden opening of the double doors, the party were confronted by four Ushabtis busy at work in a small chamber, chopping at the pulpy mass of oozing flesh and blood that was the continually forming lich Vaashkennathka.

Defeating the Ushabtis, Goran set off the Breath of the Desert trap, inflicting horrible cold damage on some of his allies, before using a mage hand to retrieve a small adamantine cube covered in ancient snake-like runes – the phylactery of Vaashkennathka!

Having discovered through various attempts and some astute divination, that the phylactery could not be destroyed, intense discussion took place, with the party remembering Ushabti parts in the torture room of the village nearby. Perhaps the villagers could help. The party set out for the nearby village, but both paladin and oracle dissolved into dreams on exiting the pyramid. It seemed the plan would need to be carried out by the three survivors.

Through some skillful negotiating and not a small amount of intimidation, the leader of the village, fiendish human Mouth of the Council, Kesophoth was convinced into donating his three Ushabtis to the pyramid if the party would replace the phylactery and inter the Ushabtis in the final resting place. In doing so, the world would yet be spared from the terrible rising of the Serpent Lich.

But all was not well in the village. With Arcael and The Oooze busy in the pyramid, Kesophoth had time to regroup his followers and when the adventurers emerged from the pyramid, they were run out of town. Long and dry was the journey back to Siwal, but eventually the three survivors returned and sought the wandering priest of Aten, Inkhnaton of Siwal who cast the two True Resurrections, paid for dearly by the adventurers, to bring both Xavier and Karn Gudin back to life.

HERE ENDETH THE ADVENTURES OF ARCAEL AND THE OOOZE IN AND AROUND THE DESERT CITY OF SIWAL.

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Nightmares and Dancing Furniture

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The Oozes left the DIMENSIONAL ENGINE room with heavy hearts, for they could not even stay to say a prayer for their slaughtered brethren. Tired and weary they finally exited the constantly teleporting chamber, ending up within the VAULT OF NIGHTMARE a place where the barriers to the Dimension of Dreams had worn precariously thin. This strange chamber with half chiselled, smoothed walls the other half consisting of smooth uneven curves, like waves, or tides in the stone, giving off the appearance that some great being of fire had melted the very rock itself.

Here wandered a denizen of the chaotic and volatile dimension of dream, Frank. An unfortunate creature in any circumstance, created by the nightmares of a powerful night hag, upon awaking she’d attempted to enslave her new creation. Fearing for its existence it’d fled the dimension of dreams though a small tear, ending up trapped within a small melted chamber for years, alone, but now there was now a small glimmer of hope. A group of living beings had entered this room, all he wanted was a hug and perhaps a small amount of energy too, was this so much to ask?

They’d attacked him, again and again forcing him to retaliate. To kill, he hadn’t wanted to do it, really. All he’d done was take the smallest amount of power from one of them and they’d tried to kill him. Again and again he attempted to push them away, his limbs passing through their soft bodies. Yet they refused to leave and let him be, one, a creature with a hairy face and pointed ears had slumped to the floor after his last attempt to flee. Out of nowhere another duo of bulky creatures had entered the room. The short one with white fluffy, wispy stuff on its head had shout such terrible insults and HAD to be answered, he would pay for those comments. (Frank died under the murderous attacks from the evil invaders, all he ever wanted was to exist.)
Another hard-earned victory was achieved, an evil spirit put to rest. However, the hard-bitten group had no time for rest and introductions for the unexpected new arrivals, for there was no knowing when another nightmare would arrive in this dreadful chamber. Bobarus the XXIII and Karakay were their names. Bobarus a Holy Dwarven servant of Moradin, the True Father and Berronar Truesilver, the Mother of Mothers the other was Karakay a man who spoke very little. Neither was sure how they’d arrived in this pyramid of nightmares, Karakay claimed to have been asleep and Bobarus on a mighty charge towards the horrors of Deeps. However, they were here and neither seemed to have bad intentions and every piece of help would be welcomed.

The goup headed down what looked like a small side passage arriving at a small stone door which Goran cautiously opened revealing a very strange circular room and a sense of peace and restfulness. Bobarus knelt in prayer to this obviously divine site, blessed by the gods themselves. Sabu and Archael worked out that this place had once housed the Tablets of Wisdom a holy artefact of Thoth and the entire room was infact a teleporter to other locations around the World.

With nothing else in the room the party proceeded back down the main corridor and down a spiral stair, leading to another small doorway, again the fearless (invisible) Goran opened the door. It oppend onto a huge, asymmetrical gallery; some of the walls ran at odd slants, while others have had more niches and angles than seemingly necessary. Great carved columns stood not in rows, but scattered haphazardly through the room. The sarcophagus at the rear end of the room was, unsettlingly enough, the room’s most normal feature. The chamber’s riches were piled around the base of the sarcophagus, rather than being inside it, and could be seen glinting from a distance. As soon as one step was taken into the room, furnature flew around the room as if possed with evil incarnates, Statues dressed in battle garb came alive and even the very pillars that held up the ceiling came to life in wrathfull countenance. The battle was another long, hard fought slog with Bobarus repeatedly hacking great chunks of rock form the statues in mightly swings, Archael blasting all torrents of fire. Then arrived a mighty ghost and crystal demon, at the end the demon begged for mercy but found none to be had. Exsausted the party rested uneasly that night.

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SOULS UP FOR GRABS!
As characters you are unaware of this, but behind the scenes of Divinity....

In the Hallowed Halls of Anu Akma, representation is made by a Servant of Death to a senior Angel of Darkness:

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Nazgill, Servant of Death, the Eternal Darkness: My Lord Khopet Anunaki, I have two souls from the Sarklan in Nuria Natal, butchered beyond belief, awaiting final judgement.
Khopet Anunaki, High Solar of Lawfulness: By the fiery balls of Aposis, it’s FUKKIN Friday afternoon!
Nazgill: Will Lord Anu Akma not receive them?
Khopet Anunaki: He’s on FUKKIN holiday, you Moron!
Nazgill: Nonetheless…
Khopet Anunaki: Whom do they worship?
Nazgill: Ogun and Seggotan, my lord.
Khopet Anunaki: Seggotan? In the desert? He obviously cares nothing for this soul. Give her 30 days’ grace in lieu of TRUE RESURRECTION at 30 000 GP. If not claimed by mortals within that time, she gets wiped. We can send her to the great UNDEAD SANDSHIPS. What about the other one? Ogun, you say?
Nazgill: Yes, my Lord.
Khopet Anunaki: And you’re sure the KEEPER OF KEYS AND DUNGEONS hasn’t claimed him?
Nazgill: I am sure, My Lord.
Khopet Anunaki: Okay, give him thirty days as well. 30 000 GP. FUKK, these mortals are worse than Gods. Anything else?
Nazgill: Both souls were members of Arcael and the Oooze
Khopet Anunaki: So what?
Nazgill: One of them was favoured of OUR LORD
Khopet Anunaki: Are you trying to tell me my job?
Nazgill: No, my Lord.
Khopet Anunaki: Just because one mortal gets a special favour, it doesn’t mean we lick their FUKKIN balls all day, you hear me?
Nazgill: Yes, my lord.
Khopet Anunaki: Decision stands. 30 days. True Resurretion paid in GOLD or we take them forever. Anything else?
Nazgill: They are in the Pyramid of Black Sands.
Khopet Anunaki: FUKK! If those fukkin assholes let Vaashkennathka back into NURIA NATAL, I’m calling on ANU AKMA myself!

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You've Seen the Butcher
Three deaths, one Breath of Life

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Deep into the Pyramid of Black Sands and in dire need of rest, but discovering the floor of the pit where they stood was actually a slowly moving machine, Arcael and The Oooze elected to rest on the central area of the platforms above. All was going well until, just before the end of their final rest period, four clockwork guardians entered the area, dividing themselves along the various causeways and approaching from all directions with activated Dynastic Auras.

Never before, in the field of humnoid saving throws, have the lives of a party been betrayed by such a host of low rolls. The gods would have wept if they had even noticed. Within moments Karn Gudin and Xavier were hacking lumps out of each other, Arcael and Saabu Theet were finding breathing difficult and spell-casting impossible, and Goran was a new enemy, both silent and invisible.

The party climbed down into the pit, but the Clockwork Guardians followed them. Poor dice rolls also followed them. Arcael finally destroyed the grim Guardians with a heightened fireball, but by that time both Karn Gudin and Xavier were dead, killed by each other, mutilated and butchered by the Guardians, and annihiliated by the DIMENSIONAL ENGINE of the Pyramid of Black Sands.

Escaping into the VAULT OF NIGHTMARE, the group were confronted by an Animate Dream, thirsting for wisdom. Even although help arrived in the form of a dwarven paladin, whisked into the room through the DIMENSION OF DREAMS, it was not enough to prevent the death of Saabu Theet, restored only by the quick thinking and acting Arcael with his Breath of Life spell.

With the creature killed, the party entered the green glowing room that seemingly once held the Emerald Tables of Wisdom. A broken teleportation room suggested many places where the tablets might have been taken, but offered no other clues. However all was not lost, as some of the Divine energy of Thoth yet remained in this room, enough to heal the party and instill a genetic blessing on the Nkosi cleric.

At the “south” end of the room, the party now saw a spiral staircase going down….

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Who put the Turtle in Myrtle's Girdle?

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The mummy is dead. The Golden Goose screams: “There must be some way out of here.” Passageway down. Falling. Tumbing. Landing. Bumping. Back, up, down, falling. Like a white rabbit. There are passageways. There is separation. On top of the building. One man and his dog. It is not actually his dog but in the end the dog is his but he is in a pit. So are his friends.

The Howls of Tindaros. The skitter of the Xhkarths. The pit and possession. The dark and the grave. Fight magic with magic. Find a way. Back in the pit. Let’s rest here for now. Hey, Priest, my dexterity don’t feel too good.

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In, Out; Now, shake it all about!

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Silent and invisible. Past the first layer of guards and across the Black Sand. Into the village and up to the large room where Xavier was being held. Two guards at the door swiftly executed by Goran, the lock deftly picked, the door quickly opened, and a silent stone thrown inside. But that is not all: an Intnsified Fireball from Arcael is thrown in just for good measure. And as if that were not enough, Karn Gudin lobs in another.

With three out of four elite Descendants of Leng hurt in the double blast, things look grim for our medical experimenters. The Leng Fighter starts a dazzling display, but is downed by Goran instantly. The others are all invisible now. Xavier is on the slab, dilerious. The Leng Rogue drinks a potion and hides while the Leng Witch casts a Barrow Haze to cloud the situation. The Leng Wizard tries to attack Saabu Theet as he enters the room and is grappled and held by the cleric in zwani lion form, his summoned bats locating the mage, the lion-cleric’s sharp claws holding the wizard in a grapple.

Rogue, Fighter, Wizard all destroyed. The Witch escapes but Xavier is freed, and the party move fast now. Silent and invisible again. Into the pyramid entrance. Now rest for an hour. THOTH has told Saabu that the villagers will not enter the pyramid.

The next day, Goran opens two sets of double doors and avoids a dangerous trap before opening a large chamber with rows of carved columns and a sarcophagus. He enters slowly and carefully, suspicious of every shadow. But Xavier has no patience for this approach. Acting alone, he runs into the chamber up to the sarcophagus, disturbing the Mummified Denizen of Leng within. The sarcophagus bursts open with the bright activation of a Symbol of Insanity and Goran is attacked.

The Assault on The Pyramid of Black Sands begins…

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From Beyond

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Not many people know about the strange mix of dwarves and humans that inhabit the Black Sands of the Southern Sarklan and their poisoned bloodline, a legacy of genetic manipulation created by the great lizard mage Vaashkennathka and perpetuated through years of isolated procreation. Even fewer know that Vaashkennathka called forth the Denizens of Leng from their otherwordly black sailships, imprisoning them, torturing them and breeding them like wild dogs with his own people.

One by one the subjects of Leng were destroyed by Vaashkennathka, their only legacy the bloodline that ran through some of the villagers. Hundreds of years ago it was, and few remain that remember it now but some say that the last two living captives of Leng rose up against their lizard master. Even now the names of Tsourga and Vuldeng are still celebrated in the village of Black Sands though almost none of the inahbitants remember what they did, how they stopped the lizard king becoming a LICH and how they travelled the far planes of the Dimension of Dreams to find the means to hold the creature in stasis.

Bringing back a great black sailship, they used the materials of the boat to construct what now stands as the slightly crooked Pyramid of Black Sands. Most who pass by this place hurry away from it. Even the villagers stay clear of it, and it is their sacred mission to keep all people away from the place. Most do not know why. Most do not care. They follow the weird religion of their leaders faithfully since they have no other paths to follow. Prohibit entry to the pyramid and perpetuate medical experiments on passers by when the opportunity arises. These are the things that seem normal to most of the villagers.

Perhaps village elders like Kesophoth, Aharamun and Tahnakophet may know more about the rituals performed and the reasons why. Perhaps they have also forgotten, and work their evil magic under the dark shadow of Aposis. Whatever the facts, these are the histories and legends surrounding Xavier as he lies spreadeagled on a cold slab, hands and feet manacled, magically held in a non raging trance as a horned humanoid stands over him with a horrible carving tool, the like of which he has never seen before.

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I see the Black Sands rising....

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Xavier, unlike most of his comrades only needed two hours of rest, so he usually took his short sleep first, and like any wise adventurer with light armour he would usually just sleep in his armour. Sure it was uncomfortable, but at least if something happened he would be ready. Even so, that night, as he settled down for his short rest after ten days of strenuous desert travelling, a part of him wished that he didn’t have to feel such discomfort. At times, his comrades Goran and Saabu Theet felt the same. Only they and their own gods knew how much they longed for a comfortable night’s sleep in a normal bed, dressed in only a nightgown, or perhaps even less.

That very night some unwished for wishes would come true as two ravenous Sarklan Rust Lords attacked the camp in search of highly desired metal and magic. Xavier had been on guard but it was almost as if he had rolled a ONE in some game where dice determined fate. Twice he called to OGUN and OGUN answered, but the Gods spread their gifts thinly over such an area and the attacks of the Rust Lords were myriad. For some, it seemed, the Gods were asleep. Many prized items were lost in that night as the Rust Lords dissolved armour and weapons like ice in a blazing fire. The Rust Lord nourishment was brief however, as Arcael and The Oooze slayed them before they could even lick their horrid insectoid mandibles.

For a few days more The Oooze travelled south but Saabu had warned of the dangers of the Ferry Port of Nangui, so Arcael had suggested they skirt the place by moving away from the river and taking a road into the deep desrert. A few more days they travelled, tired, but grateful for their Wands of Endure Elements. On the dawn of one morning, which seemed uncharacteristically hot, Goran warned of a sandstorm approaching from the North, following their trail, it woud seem. Closer it came, and quickly, the heat becoming unbearable, insect plagues emanating from the storm, and a creeping doom erupting in their midst, only seconds before a violent earthquake heralded the arrival of the Black Monk of the Southern Sarklan. Stepping out of his sandstorm, the dread mummy cast Sunbeams at the party before moving in to attack. Goran tried to take him but was knocked down as the creature flew towards Karn Gudin to deliver a death blow. But it was Karn who delivered the death blow instead. Expertly handling her Halberd of Spell Storing, she summoned the power of SEGOTAN as she plunged her weapon deep into the damaged bandages of the mummy, killing it instantly.

The storm dissipated and the swarms receded into desert sands. The Dragon Disciple had saved the day. Now the party would travel together and replenished, into the area known to only very few mortals as THE BLACK SANDS.

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Missing
Hey, what happened to that guy....?

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Tharn Shatta-Renn glided effortlessly in the thin air above the Sarklan Desert. An immense distance separated his taut reptilian wings from the hot sand below, but this did nothing to diminish the power of his keen eyesight as he watched his prey travel slowly towards a ship on the banks of the Great Green Nuria. He had underestimated the small group when he had made his first ambush attack on its only scaled member, a lowly dragonkin female that had survived his pounce and resisted his poison. That was a mistake he would not make twice.

The company on the ship were slavers from Nangui by the looks of it, led by a demon with great horns. Troublesome quarry, he thought, tough by nature, tough in flesh. And tricksy. So very tricksy. The rest were humans, one of them a gnoll. A bit sinewy, not to his taste, and the slaves too lean. And what was this coming out of the boat? A mummy? Now, that really WOULD be disgusting. No, it was a succulent human traveller for him – soft skin and a few shiny objects to take home and admire.

Ah, they were fighting! Excellent! Some quick movers, flyers too. The nkosi was on his own but in a field of tentacles. Not a good place to land, Tharn thought. My gosh, what a flurry of magic they display. But one of them seemed to be avoiding the fight and moving into the open desert. Nice garb, some shiny metal and far enough away from the conflict. Ideal!

Tharn’s wingtips flicked slightly to change position before he drew the appendages to his side and dropped like a stone toward the young priest standing alone on a desert dune. Tharn saw the young man’s eyes just before he collided. They looked like they were praying in vain to some unknown god. Those eyes would never see again.

So ends the life of Ali Akbar, Rune Oracle of ATEN.

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