Five gamers met me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday to continue the further adventures of the band of heroes: Don, playing Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF); Dallas, playing Anallia (Elf RGR/CLC) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven, with Alex (Half-elf FTR/THF) and Cain (Human M-U); Derek running Gerhardt (Human PAL); and a newcomer joining us, Stevie, playing Kildion (Dwarf PAL) [As a side note, I didn’t see that allowing a dwarf to be a paladin would imbalance the game, at least not this game, and since they’re allowed to be clerics in this milieu.]
The group had some activities in Kajalla before setting out, while Stevie was creating his character. Barlyn, determined to assist the dwarves of several villages rebuild their populations, researched a new spell he called “plant the seed” which would increase their fertility. Cain researched a new spell of his own (name not yet determined) which would allow a magic-user to cast another spell with the effect as though he were one level higher. Barton obtained funding from his colleagues to start a small business, to wit a small tavern/inn/house of negotiable affection in the dockside area; his intent is to have several in various locations to use as sources of information. He also searched for additional rumors, discovering that the Five Sisters area had been the site of a major battle early in the Lemurian War, but that no record seems to have indicated which side won. In addition, he discovered that one of the islands contains the remains of a Khaurava fortress, which fell to the Pandavas some five years after the battle. And he heard that the islands were inhabited by a number of lizard men — the number he heard bandied about was 100000 although that seemed a little high. Due to the last factor the group decided to travel to the Tolepur area en route to the Five Sisters, to see if any members of the lizard man tribe Barton, Barlyn, and Anallia had befriended would be willing to travel with them to act as an intermediary.
The group arrived at Tolepur without incident, after which Barlyn travelled to Ferrara and used his new spell to assist the population in increasing their birth rate. The group then travelled to the lizard man village, where they were announced as 111 visitors. (There is a method to the madness of lizard man arithmetic, but no one has discovered it yet.) After meeting with the tribal leaders, the group got their first lizard man friend, one Vasily, to join their expedition. They then set sail for the Five Sisters.
Halfway to the islands, they discovered they were being followed by a creature, one which appeared to be very large and to have the head of a snake. It was overtaking the ship, and so Barton, Anallia, Barlyn, and Alex leaped into the sea to face it, roped to the ship. The creature (it was a plesiosaur) dove before the crew could fire at it, and prepared to attack those who had so brazenly come to face it in its own environment. Barton targeted its eyes with magic missiles successfully, enraging it and getting a serious bite for his troubles. (As a side note, targeting the eyes of a sea creature underwater is not an extremely effective tactic, but oh, well…) While this was going on, Gerhardt hurled a waterproof magical lantern he had into the water to try to see what was going on. At this point Alex maneuvered himself onto the base of its neck and drove his sword directly into its spine, scoring a crit! Now both enraged and fearful, the creature sounded rapidly, with Alex riding it, and the plesiosaur twisting its head backward to snap at him. In the interim, Gerhardt, unable to resist the lure of combat, had Cain cast strength onto him, drank a potion of water breathing, and leaped into the water with his normal armor on, thus sinking like a stone. The others loosed the ropes binding them to the ship, and pursued, with Anallia getting into range to stab at the creature as well. With Gerhardt and Alex striking as well, the creature succumbed quickly, and the group emerged from the water roughly two minutes before the sharks summoned by the smell of blood in the water showed up. Sadly, Gerhardt was unable to locate his lantern, and will no doubt have to get another one made.
The group proceeded to the archipelago without further incident. Arriving, and looking at the map of the Five Sisters, they chose to begin their investigation on Kansalla, the southwestern-most of the five. The ship anchored, and the group took one of the boats to shore to explore the island. They began trekking through the forest, and Anallia observed a large silk growth on the side of a tree…this led Barton to suggest they find another path, especially when several characters saw the large spiders crawling along the tree’s branches. They did so, and after an overnight rest approached a ruined tower they had seen from the beach. As the group approached the tower they were ambushed by a group of 5 giant carnivorous apes! The apes wounded Anallia, but were quickly routed (3 slain, the other 2 fled) by the rest of the group.
As the group came close to the tower both paladins detected the stench of evil coming from it. There was a door at ground level, and the group entered, finding nothing but bare walls, fragments of wood, a fireplace, a small kitchen area (in the same state as the other room) and stairs leading up. Kildion charged up the stairs, searching for the source of the evil, but it wasn’t on the second floor, which contained ruined shelves and books. The third and top floor had a ruined roof, and more scraps of wood. (The scraps of wood came from the old furniture in the building, which had rotted. The ruin was around 200 years old.) At this point they discovered something odd about the chimney — the only fireplace was on the ground floor, but the chimney became wider at the second floor (it was as though the fireplace had a stovepipe which was within the chimney.) Barton, looking up from the ground floor, saw movement inside the chimney, which prompted Kildion to decide to break through the wall on the third floor to find out what was inside. He had Cain cast strength on him, tucked his shield and his maul into a “cannonball” position, and charged across the room into the wall. He broke through the first wall easily, through the chimney, and through the exterior wall, and fell to the ground outside. Fortunately, he didn’t perish, and Barlyn was able to assist his own healing ability so that he was able to recover. The bird that had been inside the chimney flew away unharmed. The group did discover the 7th fragment of the Lemuriad on the second floor.
Meanwhile, Barton had, via meticulous examination and stomping, determined that there was a basement of some sort in the tower. Barlyn, examining the fireplace, discovered a mechanism to open one of the flagstones leading to a stairway that went down. Once this door was opened, the stench of evil rolled up over the paladins, and Kildion was unable to resist the temptation to charge down the stairs as fast as he could to face it, with Gerhardt following at a slightly more sedate pace. (Gerhardt is not a speed demon in any case; the group usually refers to him as a “glacier.” He’s usually the last to attack, but when he gets there, evil things die.) Sadly for Kildion, as he reached the bottom of the stairs he felt a pair of eyes boring into him, and realized that their owner was his best friend in all the world, someone for whom he would do anything….
Gerhardt, however, was made of sterner stuff, and resisted the eyes, swinging his longsword at the creature. Barton, following behind them, leaped over the stairs and into the basement room, seeing a stone sarcophagus at the other end of the room. Barton prepared to unleash his staff of lightning at the creature, as the creature itself commanded Kildion to attack Gerhardt! Fortunately for the peace between the paladins, he was not successful. As more of the party began coming down the stairs, the creature turned to mist and rematerialized behind Barton. Fortunately for Barton, he was on hold and was able to unleash a lightning bolt from his staff immediately before being attacked. The rebound off the wall injured Barton, but the creature was dispersed into mist and vanished.
The events caused Kildion to recover from his charmed state, and the party laid plans to finish off the vampire. Barton cast a web across the fireplace, and Gerhardt doused it with holy water, then went upstairs to prepare to pour more holy water down the chimney. (Unfortunately, while Barton, Barlyn, and Anallia all also had holy water, it was a special type of holy water developed by Barlyn, which has a rather — napalm — effect because he is a priest of Pyrros.) Alex and Kildion then opened the sarcophagus, and the vampire — now fully restored — came out to attack. At this point Barton was able to hit it again with his staff’s lightning, Alex plunged his sword into it, and Barton hit it with a second bolt of lightning before it could act. Cain finished it with a set of magic missiles, causing the creature to revert to mist form and attempt to escape — through the holy water soaked web blocking the chimney. This actually finished it.
The group then searched the basement they were in and found a fair amount of shiny valuables and magic items, including a longsword +2 defender, a +2 Maul, a suit of +2 scale mail, a cloak of the manta ray, a manual of bodily health, a wand of missiles, and a short sword +1, +3 vs. lycanthropes. [Yes, this was a larger than average haul of magic items, but there was some very good and lucky rolling involved. The +2 maul went to Kildion; most of the other items were distributed appropriately, and a couple were put into storage in the portable hole. I should also mention that this particular vampire was specifically NOT the original owner of the tower, as he was not very bright. An inferior vampire to be sure.]