|Snake sightings in every session so far. Time to pretend these random encounters was foreshadowing all along|
One of my players was running a 5k to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and had I not been injured at the time so would I. Fortunately, that player's character was still a pile of ash so we were able to continue the adventure with no hand-waving required. We picked back up in the water temple passageway, the players had just achieved 5th level and were deciding what to do. They were sent to take care of two junior fire temple priests but the way back was filled with vengeful Salamanders that neither of them wished to tussle with.
Their options were to move through the water temple to access fire, or return to the north part of the temple which mostly under their current earthy patron's control. Not wishing to rile up the water temple they slogged through the water passage hoping for the nearest exit. They came across a trio of giant snakes (this module sure loves Snakes, I've decided I'm going to work in some man-serpents into the water temple) who Bronan unsuccessfully tried to befriend. They needed to pass but Bronan forbade Max the Spy (SpyMax as they've taken to calling him) from harming them. You have to the give the wannabe Druid credit for sticking to his principles. So instead he used his stony form as a human shield for Max, successfully passing his Saving Throw for a quick reflexes. They made their way through the passage as it sloped the outer edge of the temple and neared the earth temple. Their they encountered murals on the wall depicting groups of men armed with spears attacking a colossus with a giant skull for a head, all depicted in the style of a caveman painting. Here, Max was reminded of the poem he had regarding a golden skull.
The Two united in the past,
a place to build, and spells to cast.
Their power grew, and took the land
and people round, as they had planned.
A key without a lock they made
of gold and gems, and overlaid
with spells, a tool for men to wield
to force the powers of Good to yield.
But armies came, their weapons bared,
while evil was yet unprepared.
The Hart was followed by the Crowns
and Moon, and people of the towns.
The two were split; one got away
but She, when came the judgment day,
did break the key, and sent the rocks
to boxes four, with magic locks.
As they moved to investigate the room they awoke the stone minotaur statue in the room. Bronan continued his pacifist ways with the idea that the minotaur had befallen the same fate. Unfortunately his pleas for reason were ignored as the minotaur stomped on and Max the elven archer readied the last of his acid arrows. This was the first encounter that demonstrated some of the intricacies of the HP system. Due to the high rolls of both Bronan and the Minotaur at the start of combat neither of them were able to significantly wound the other for a number of turns, each one clinging onto that last HP. As the stakes continued to raise, their identical weapons poised it got to the point where Bronan nearly lost, but thanks for an abominable roll of snake eyes on my damage he managed to stave off death and finally finish off the horned beast. In retrospect the effect of Armor on HP was forgotten in this fight so it may be time to rethink another implementation that is more memorable.
|Coming to a shipping address near you|
Cracked all over and unsure of how to even begin to heal himself Bronan tried to reconnect with the force that first let him travel through stone but was unable to absorb the minotaurs pieces into him (mental note, give him the minotaur head as a helmet). The pair decided to head upstairs to meet the High Priest Romaag. Romaag was unsurprisingly displeased they had not already eradicated the pair of junior fire cultists, however, when he learned of what transpired in the fire altar his wrathful demeanor diminished and he was left in thought for quite some time. Bronan was sent to the altar and recovered there, while he was there he received another brush with the force of earth.
|Wonderful art for a wonderful game L5R|
Unable to win in a battle of (stupid) wits Bronan and Max decided to cast off their ruse as Earth Supporters and betray them. Max the Spy earned the Double Cross class feature and the two quickly dispatched the pair of befuddled Ogre guards. Princess Talahi and her aged guardian Sir Juffers were grateful for their rescue. She explained she was looking for her betrothed husband the prince who had gone missing after the battle 12 years ago the last time the Temple of Elemental Evil surfaced. Finding this hook much more appealing than having to wipe out the fire temple (plus they wanted to wait for the return of the third player so that he and his rival could have their inevitable showdown) the pair decided to try and find a way to get the captured royals to the surface. Max with his insider knowledge knew of many different exits but all of them required him to betray his current alliance with the Earth Temple which he was not ready to do quite yet. Instead they opted to take the most dangerous path that would lead them through the northern maze on the second floor and eventually to an undead filled staircase to the surface.
Along the way with some lucky rolls on behalf of their Dwarven and Elven heritage respectively the two managed to uncover a section of the wall that appeared to be weaker than the rest. If anything it looks as though it was a doorway that was haphazardly walled up. As Bronan ruined the stone Mintoaurs axe breaking down the wall they began to hear voices from around the temple coming to investigate. Inside they found a weird greenish light emanating from the left side of the room and various supplies on the right. Restocking their rations they also came across a workman's hammer of pure silver, a few handfuls of silver and a pure copper statue depicting the Prince riding his famous warhorse. The princess was overjoyed to receive the item but soon enough they heard a ghostly howling coming from the otherworldly green light as a specter began to form.
|Specter of DC comics|
This sleep deprived DM thought it would be a good time to work in some exposition in between the specters ghostly wailing and destructive use of the Wind mana.
Many now have gone to die
in water, flame, in earth, or sky.
They did not bear the key of old
that must be found - the orb of gold.
Beware, my friend, for you shall fall
unless you have the wherewithal
to find and search the boxes four
and then escape forevermore.
But with the key, you might succeed
in throwing down Her power and greed.
Destroy the key when you are done
and then rejoice, the battle won.
With the that the spirit departed for his final rest and we ended there. Once more the party was barely clinging to life. It may be time to reevaluate their combat strategies because as I told them upon entering the temple the introduction is over and the kiddy-gloves come off. If they want to survive it will require their wits, strength of arm, diplomacy and a healthy sense of mortal danger to once again see the light of day.