Thursday, August 8, 2013

Returning to the Temple of Elemental Evil (Campaign Recap # 2.3)


My final player made an appearance for the first time this session so we opened with his introductory scene.  Betrayed again by his one time friend Nigel, he was drowned and knocked unconscious and brought to the temple along with Bronan the Barbarian.  There they parted ways with Bronan moving to the Earth Temple and Drake moving to the Fire temple (this was based on their favored element chosen at character creation).

Drake awoke in a large entirely brass ornate goblet, big enough to fill a giant's thirst.  The chalice rested on a jet black alter in a well lit room, with saucers brimming with fire lining a red carpet walkway.  In between each pillar and flaming saucer were red robed and hooded fire cultists, their heads bowed in a slow rhythmic chant.  On either side of him were two fire archons, spirits of pure flame clad in black iron segmented armor wielding claymores poised to strike the poor sod stuck in the chalice.  Of course in front of him was none other than Nigel with a smug smile, hand crossbows at his belt as well as Drakes Whip and holding two staves.  One tipped with a blue gem that he had used previously to drown the two players, the other was the wind staff that Drake had found in his intro vignette and used to great effect on skeletons and gnolls alike throughout his career.




"Tell us where it is Drake and I'll give you your final release."  Nigels words awoke clouded memories in Drakes head.  He didn't know how he got here and what they were talking about.  Deja vu gripped his thoughts and he seemed to remember this question being asked over and over again, much to the same conclusions.  He eyed the Archon's warily as memories began to reform in his head.

"Fine, be difficult." With a snap of his fingers, the red robed man to his right gestured and the Archons swords snapped in clockwise and counterclockwise arcs.  Had there been nothing in the way they might have rang out with a deafening clang of metal.  Instead Drake found himself split in two.  The fire consumed him and he was reborn.  Alive, in one piece but memory damaged once more.  He tried to focus, still ignoring this round of questioning, in his memory he saw this scenario going on over and over again.  At first he was witty, defiant, tried to escape but every time he met the same end.  {So this is what he meant by final release}  When Drake reincarnated the first time it seemed like a great boon, he never expected it would be used against him.  The blood of the phoenix demanded tribute he thought. 

"A gem, Drake, you remember?  A nice big diamond atop this staff, I know you couldn't resist it."  Drake remember selling a Diamond to a trader back in Hommlet, how foolish, that gem was apparently the key to unlocking this staff.  The gem is long gone, and so am I.  How about you just let me go Nige?  "Bargaining won't work here Drake, you have no leverage!"  Snap, the swords came down and Drake was no more.  The ashes burned and Drake was whole once more.  This time more lucid than before.  He began brainstorming ideas on how to get out, I alerted him to the presence of his machete lodged in the east wall and the two brightly burning braziers flanking his bowl nestled in alcoves behind him.  Above each of them was a grand tapestry depicting a Salamander impaling a soldier.  Correctly puzzling out it's use he figured that a sacrifice might just summon a Salamander.  But how would he do that?

He hatched a plot, based on his memories of past deaths, to trick the Archons into swinging, ducking at the opportune moment then flipping out of the basin and taking cover behind the alter.  There he would dash to the nearby machete and back to the bowl.  Then the ritual would take place.

Game stopping player quote:
"You have literally found a situation where killing yourself is the best outcome."

The ritual worked, better than expected.  A pair of Salamanders emerged from the braziers, their wrath waxing hot demanding to know why the cultists would sacrifice phoenix blood.  The high priest was quaking in his boots, he directed the Archons to engage the salamanders while he and Nigel fled.  Meanwhile the fire cultists lay prostrate between the salamanders before their heads were lopped off by their angry demigods.

Meanwhile, Maximilian the Elven Spy working as a double agent against the ToEE had made his way through the tower ruins, past the brigands on guard who were under the impression he had returned to see Romaag.  He took the secret passage into the temple and met with Romaag in a high stakes affair of cat and mouse

Romaag had sent the blind samurai to assassinate him after hearing of the events leading to the moathouse.  Maximilian managed to convince him that Lareth had planned on betraying them and was recruiting and tempting their forces to her side (all true), Maximiliian and his companions merely dispatched them all.  Romaag was already aware of this and had sent a team of three elite guards to remove Lareth, he lost contact with them and when he captured Maximilian's partners one of them was wearing the magic anklets of speed previously worn by one of the elite three.  Maximilian quickly brushed this off as a spoil of war they had acquired in Lareth's personal chambers, allegedly she had already wiped them out (in reality the PCs had to contend with this team of three as they limped out of the back entrance after they had dealt with Lareth.)  Satisfied so far with his answers Romaag tasked Max with eliminating a pair of high ranking fire cultists who were recruiting earth temple members to their side. 

At that point Bronan the Dwarven Statue was escorted into the ceremonial cave by the Ogre chieftan.  The player chose to play stupid, as stupid as one can be, and did his best to try and blow Maximilians cover.

Fortunately Max had already explained the company he was keeping.  Instead this burst of stupidity caused Romaag to retract all previous offers of wealth, power and leadership. Instead giving him back his possessed Red Rock Axe and sending him "Out of his sight" and placing Maximilian as his ward.  When asked about their other companion Romaag merely mentioned that he had a prior arrangement with another high priest.  If they wanted more information they would have to deal with those fire cultists first.

They found the way to the fire temple suspiciously empty, they made their way entirely to the high priests chamber without interruption where they witnessed the Salamanders beheading Cultists.  Nigel and the High Priest had already made their escape.  Drake was still ash in the bowl as the Salamnders and Archons duke it out.  Maximilian recongnized Drakes weapon of choice on the ground by the bowl and they correctly assumed that what was left of him was on the raised dais.  They made their way to the bowl not garnering any unwanted attention then debated what to do.  Bronan the superstitious barbarian did not want to engage the Salamanders or the Archons because he did not want any demigods angry with him in the long term.  Maximilian didn't want to be caught in the middle of them.  The two of them bickered over how to acquire Drakes Ashes, Bronan wanted to topple the altar then later wanted to be boosted up.

Max:  "Oh right, boost you up that'll work.  Let me see if my strength of 4 is enough to pick up a statue."

Eventually it was decided Max would vault up there, collect the ashes and get down.  Of course when he got up there the Archon's switched to a cautious stance, fending off the Salamanders while facing the bowl.  Max had the bright idea to use his scroll of invisibility after collecting the ashes.  A quick Revelation check alerted him to the fact that creatures of pure flame probably see by heat source rather than normal vision so the plan was scrapped.  Instead Bronan was forced to overcome his superstitions, kneecap an archon while Max leapt away while it was distracted.  The three of them fled down the hallway, to the focal point and entered the water temple where they immediately encountered a troll training an owlbear.  The pair and their ashen companion quickly ran past the troll while the Salamanders in hot pursuit over the dead phoenix dealt with the troll.  We decide that was a nice place to wrap up for the night.