Rappan Athuk Reloaded

Session 1: Entering Rappan Athuk

The six companions, 5 dwarves and 1 reincarnated blink dog, entered Mendev after traveling for weeks. One purpose they had: finding artifacts and glory within Rappan Athuk.

  1. The weather began to turn sour. Snow was in the air.
  2. The city of Egede in Mendev assaulted the senses with activity. The Fourth Crusade was alive and well. Though the church of Iomedae and her holy paladins seemed in control, “low templars” and mercenaries of a varied sort filled the street. Those seeking wealth and glory in the World Wound far outnumbered the holy crusaders who commanded them.
  3. Paladins carrying a man bound in cold-iron chains stopped as the man’s head exploded in the middle of the street and the crusaders hacked the emerging demon apart. The party recognized it as a nascent hezrou demon.
  4. A dwarf bumped into the party and yelled, “Choose your own death, my friends!” He laughed and moved on.
  5. Egede seemed to suffer from the activity of sending troops to the World Wound to protect the Ward Stones. Drunk mercenaries were passed out in the park. Trash and the smell of rotting vegetation filled the air.
  6. A government office seemed prominent in Egede, beckoning new-comers to join the Fourth Crusade. The party found one Crusader Captain Venreim inside. After attempting to sign them to march to the front and protect the Ward Stones, the Crusader admitted they knew little of Rappan Athuk and would be thankful for more information. The dungeon seemed to appear out of the mists no more than eight months ago. Three patrols had been sent and still no word. Undead, trolls, bandits and cultists of Orcus, demon prince of the undead, were said to populate the area 100 miles north of Egede. He offered rewards for information and help.
  7. On day one, after camping for the night, the party encountered Horace and his band of men, deserters from the crusade. They killed Horace and drove them off.
  8. A couple days later, a mob of 25 zombies attacked, nearly overwhelming them. Hacking and biting through rotten flesh, the party defeated the menace and pressed onward.
  9. The sunken graveyard loomed near. They looked in the well, examining the claw marks indicating a beast of some size had tried to claw its way up from the depths. Azrond threw a stone into the well and listened to the echo as it dropped into some unseen lake of darkness.
  10. Hiso passed through a dwarf statue, finding a hidden compartment. Inside was a large wrought-iron key. They kept the key though found no immediate use.
  11. They avoided many rat tunnels, though the creatures peered out to examine them.
  12. Booted prints were common-place. They searched two mausoleums and left a third, the largest, alone. One of the smaller was empty, long-ago looted. The second seemed to contain the horde of some group or creature. After looting, they found excavated rat tunnels leading underground. They travleed them and found themselves in a cavern complex underground.
  13. Rough-hewn stairs led down into darkness.
  14. Within minutes, rat swarms and dire rats surrounded them. After dispatching, they headed north, bypassing an underground river that led into darkness. Wererats ambushed the party, emerging as a mound of earth collapsed and hurt them. Poisoned bolts flew from the darkness. The cowardly creatures shapeshifted and fled into tiny tunnels, severely wounding the heroes.

They looted the wererat nest. Slurping sounds and miasmic movement came from the east. Stench of filth and disease filled the cavern.

Session 2: Evil Goes Deep
dung monster marthek vorlak

Finding a secret door, the party rested and regained strength. They discovered that they were in perhaps the first level of Rappan Athuk after finding a ladder leading up to the main mausoleum. Stairs leading down took them to a “second” level. Key events were:

  1. Dred, the druid, fled with his pet cat. A strange half-orc ran from the northern caverns, claiming that a friend of his had been devoured by some awful-smelling ooze that dropped from the ceiling. The ranger was Urg, searching for his father, Grg.
  2. Behind the secret door was a starving ghast and his “whisperer” friends, two shadows.
  3. Poison playing cards, pit traps and cave-ins seem to have been set, slowing them down.
  4. Hiso teleported behind a cave-in, risking being stuck, retrieving arcane scrolls and a magical short sword.
  5. The ladder leading up to the main mausoleum also exposed the party to a unique skeletal undead: the Black Skeleton of Rappan Athuk. It’s shriek induced panic and its short swords drained strength. An ingenious collapsing-ceiling trap caused the party to flee again underground.
  6. They traced the horrible scent to a latrine area, where three pit toilets were along with decomposing corpses piled in a corner. On one pit was a shiny porcelain seat. Torring tried to descend into one pit, but the stench was even too much for him. He picked up the porcelain seat only to discover it to be some sort of mutated mimic, an ooze-like Dung Monster that grappled and glued him, trying to drag him into the pit. The party freed him, but couldn’t harm the dung-thing. They fled, outpacing the slow creature.
  7. On the second level, they avoided yet more traps, and were greeted by Marthek, a filthy, crazed, cannibal barbarian that sprouted horns and sharp quills. Marthek threw vials of Green Slime at Azrond, though Hendel scorched it with Burning Hands. Dangerous in his rage, the party nevertheless defeated Marthek and took his magical great club and filthy treasure.
  8. The noise of combat attracted five black skeletons. Many members dropped and nearly perished. Before the skeletons were destroyed, Morgrimm lost much of his strength.
  9. They spent days traveling the coast to return to Egede. Captain Vanreim delivered on his promised Rewards.
  10. They sold items to Vanreim in support of the Crusade and, in return, he commissioned magic items for the party.
  11. The heroes traveled five days back to Rappan Athuk, this time tracking within the Forest of Hope to locate Vorlak the ogre and his band of kobolds. They followed kobolds back to their cave. Within, the dodged numerous traps and pits only to confront Vorlak himself. Dozens of kobold mobs attacked as well as their dire badger pets. In
Session 3: Saracek the Fallen Falls

Vanreim provided funds in exchange for Rappan Athuk intel and bringing back the head of Vorlak the ogre. Morgrimm chose to stay put in town to learn more about the Fourth Crusade, but Vanreim provided Aribon, priest of Iomedae, to guide the party through the dungeon of graves. A crusader returned from the World Wound, Aribon sought the paladin, Braimen, and joined the party in looking for his lost friend. After buying supplies the party returned north to the coastal road:

  • Camping near stone ruins, the heroes encountered magic-wielding skeletons and armored skeletal ogres. They destroyed the undead and moved on.
  • Noises came from a cliff cavern. Inside were phantom armors. Urg fired arrows and Torring launched himself at the armored undead. Taking down the sentinels, they found a small cache of potions and magic armor.
  • They returned to the second level of Rappan Athuk, avoiding wandering monsters. Rot grubs inhabited an old corpse, but perished in fire. A magical spiked ball tried to throw them into a patch of brown mold, but was easily avoided, especially as Hiso blinked his way through the corridor.
  • A pentagram-shaped room contained two mobs of ghouls. The 60-plus undead swarmed the party, nearly overwhelming them. Aribon channeled to heal and harm. Hiso performed hit and run tactics. Urg fired into the mobs while Torring grappled and punched. Azrond hacked and slashed. Hendel unleashed all of his spells, burning them with fire. Hendel’s web held them at bay. Yet the noise attracted an ogre leader named Ambro and his four ogre servants. Stuck between the two foes, Hendel continued to Web the ghouls while the rest of the party took down the ogres. At last, the corridor was choked with corpses and the party looted both the pentragram room and the ogre lair.
  • They returned to the secret hold on the first level and rested. After going back down, gold-plated doors greeted them covered in Infernal runes spelling out Celestial words: “Here lies Saracek…” Poison needle traps protected several doors into the inner sanctum. Motifs told a story of the holy warrior, Saracek, captured by the minions of Orcus and forced to convert to darkness and, finally, undeath. Inside the sanctum, the skeletal remains of Saracek himself greeted the party, “Orcus welcomes you. You will join his legions in undeath.” Fear overwhelmed the party. Saracek’s green, glowing greatsword cut an unholy swathe through Azron and Torring. Torring fell, bleeding out. Azrond healed himself repeatedly as the party surrounded the skeletal anti-paladin. Urg and Hiso ran in panicked fear. Aribon healed until exhausted. In a bold move, Azrond managed to disarm Saracek and Hendel cast Levitate on the unholy sword. It levitated beyond Saracek’s reach and the undead howled in frustration. Azrond screamed as Saracek faced off against him, his corrupting touch replacing the greatsword. Aribon stood behind the fighter to heal him and Hendel tried to penetrate the skeleton’s spell resistance. At last, Azrond’s axe crushed the skeleton, Saracek cursing him with his final crusty breath.
  • Saracek’s treasure, including the gold-plated door, was ransacked. A shining steel shield called from the corner of the sanctum…
Session 4: Dirty Stinking Trolls

Vanreim paid the party and supplied them with new weaponry. They unloaded Marthek’s strange, shifting club to buy more relevant weaponry. After some discussion the party opted to pursue the trolls spotted near Rappan Athuk and avoid the dungeon itself.

  • They avoided a huge-sized black pudding and large nest of giant wasps.
  • The mud-soaked bog was difficult to navigate, but the trolls proved easy to find. They found them sleeping or arguing and cut into them before they could react. Five trolls were down and scorched with fire.
  • Hendel spotted a raised mound in the middle of the swamp. The heroes headed directly into the mound, surprised to find no less than six abnormally large trolls and a hideous troll hag leading them. From behind a rock, a stony rock troll barbarian emerged. As the hag empowered the rock troll with the unholy might of Urgathoa, the party battled the advanced trolls. Az and Morgrimm’s blows were devastating. Hiso and Torring managed to flank a troll, but within moments Torring was surrounded and rent into small giblets. Hiso teleported to the troll hag and did battle with her directly while the rock troll charged into melee and nearly brought Morgrimm to his knees. Hendel used fireball, flaming sphere and burning hands to send the trolls to hell. Urg fired countless arrows into their midst. Yet, as the party retreated from the mound, destroying several of the trolls and the rock troll, others snuck up behind Urg and tore him to shreds.
  • With two of the party down, the heroes may have perished. The gods smiled for at that moment they were joined by Tucker, the hillbilly witch searching for his lost pig, and Requiem the Summoner and his esoteric ediolon, Rocknut. They were never clear on how either of the strange pair survived alone in the swamp, but indeed they were there. The roll menace was pushed back and a combined attack against the troll matriarch ended her foul existence.
  • Recovering from their wounds and gathering the moist pieces of their fallen comrades, the heroes were surprised when a high-pitched male voice called to them from another tunnel, “I am Turane, troll friend! Leave now! You’re ruining my work.” Turane seemed to be a human and claimed to be a wizard. He gave his word that he could control the remaining trolls and prevent them from looting the north road. Despite this assurance, the party rested in the wild and returned the next day to annihilate the trolls forever.
  • Turane was guarded by five more advanced trolls. While the giants rent and bit, Turane used Fireball, Ball Lightning and Pit Spells to control party movement. Tucker forced his hand by using Stinking Cloud and finally Hiso and Az were able to bring the wizard low. The rest of the party destroyed the trolls.
  • Hiso narrowly avoided a Phantasmal Killer trap on a chest. They looted Turane and the troll matriarch’s treasure, finding a journal detailing Turane’s alliance with the trolls and his search for “Akbeth’s treasure,” seemingly a ring of Shapechanging. His journal described searching through Rappan Athuk, but being unable to penetrate “mithral gates.” Finally, he determined that he could dig a tunnel to Akbeth’s grave by using the trolls in the mound. In exchange, he brewed potions for the monsters.
  • An excavated pit seemed to lead deep underground…
Session 5: What is Real?

The only time spent in Egede was finding Aribon. The party quickly made its way back to the wilds and Rappan Athuk.

  1. Noises in the forest and the sound of a dying elk roused their interest. In a clearing they found three Forest Drakes devouring a dead elk. The drakes spouted clouds of acid, biting and slapping with their tales, but were quickly put down through a combination of Hendel’s fireballs, Hiso’s growing agility with sneak attacks and combined attacks from Rocknut and Azrond.
  2. In the graveyard, they were surprised when the green gargoyles finally animated and attacked. Two were over-sized and had four arms. Their attacks were powerful and even Rocknut was brought low by their combined claws, bites and horn attacks. Another gargoyle fired a longbow, hovering in the air. Hiso dimension-doored into the mausoleum, but found that the ceiling trap had a magical trigger. Two of the stony creatures were destroyed and a third fled but only after Aribon and Requiem went down, bleeding. The mausoleum trap reset and Az retrieved the finicky key from the dwarf statue which bypassed the trap. Hendel gathered the green gems that were the gargoyles’ eyes, finding them to be emeralds of incredible value.
  3. Skeletons and putrid, diseased zombies attacked them on the first level, but were destroyed without much thought. They avoided the dung creature and found the stairs to the second level. Again, undead swarmed them but were easily killed. They went northeast and entered a moist cavern filled with mushrooms. Aribon’s tower shield with Light cast upon it triggered the Shriekers to begin their noise. As they walked into the cavern, Twilight Mushrooms exploded in clouds of spores. Hiso and Aribon nearly died a choking, airless death. They were carried back to the safe room until Aribon could revive them with Lesser Restoration. The rest of the part returned to the cavern, avoiding the mushrooms, but found a gnarled root system and stump that animated and attacked: a Cavern Bog Creeper. The creature erupted in acid and thorny branches. After the initial shock, the stump was destroyed and burned, its swampy treasure looted.
  4. Resting in the safe room, the party was surprised when the emeralds regenerated into the gargoyles! They fought them again, this time in close quarters. After their second death, the gems dissolved.
  5. Az and Hendel convinced the party to cast Water Breathing and go down the river on the first level. Giant albino Gar swam lazily past. Hundreds of yards down-river and deep in the dungeon, something gargantuan opened a reptilian eye. Swimming slowly, Azrond attacked while Requiem sent Rocknut to do the same. Hiso teleported to the other side of the massive beast. It emerged from the deep muck: an albino dire crocodile. With a lazy motion, the reptile snapped its jaws on Az and swallowed whole. A combined attack on the beast resulted in a cloud of blood and flesh as at last Azrond erupted from the creatures gullet. The gar feasted well. Feeling a moment of fear, the party decided to return upriver and avoid the water, but only after finding a magical axe buried in the mud.
  6. Instead, they took the stairs down on the second level. Glowing green letters on an archway leading into a large cavern warned: “Beware of Purple Worms! The archmage, Spiegel.” Indeed, the earth rumbled and shook. The party hugged the eastern wall, avoiding the open cavernous space. But Aribon tripped and fell, attracting the attention of a much smaller Tenebrous Worm and its Gloomwing parent. The giant moth mesmerized and confused the party while the Tenebrous Worm fought with barbs and jaws. They brought the worm low and the Gloomwing fled. However, the noise attracted something much larger. The huge Purple Worm erupted from the rocky soil. Az, Hiso and Aribon cast water breathing and jumped into a different river, floating downstream. Rocknut was sent to battle the beast but was destroyed, while Hendel and Requiem levitated far above the worm. Injured, the worm slipped back into the earth after not finding food. The river swimmers discovered a fork in the river, but returned to the cavern. They hugged the cavern wall and entered a stone-carved room beyond the cave.
  7. Going through a door to the east, incense was thick. They found symbols of Orcus and blood-spattered walls. A preserved human corpse was displayed on an altar, prepared for some sort of ritual. Going deeper into the luxurious chamber, six maidens confronted them. Az disappeared with a flash and appeared in the far corner along with a Vrock demon. The demon tore Az to shreds and appeared next to the party. The maidens shifted into jackalweres and attacked with swords. Hiso managed to trip the demon while the party did battle with the jackal creatures.
  8. Hendel cast a stinking cloud hoping to stop them. Meanwhile, Az looked around and wondered why Hiso had attacked him and the rest of the party looked ready to split open his head. Hendel suspected something was amiss and cast Dispel magic on the demon – in its place was their friend, Az. The room was covered in thick Mirage Arcana, Veil and Permanent Image illusions. An invisible creature attacked from within the Stinking Cloud, casting powerful Magic Missiles and Lightning Bolts. A Confusion spell nearly wiped out the party as they began to flagellate themselves and each other. Aribon took himself down in a fit of insanity. A lightning bolt slammed into Az and nearly destroyed him. Hendel limped away after multiple Magic Missiles, Acid Arrows and Scorching Rays. Whatever the creature was, it seemed resistant to most magic. Finally, Hendel threw a Glitterdust into the room and blinded the creature while at the same time revealing its location and form: A royal-looking tiger humanoid. Hendel recognized it as a Greater Rakshasa and shouted a warning to his friends. The jackalweres fell, but the Rakshasa was resistant to most blows. Requiem could not summon Rocknut due to his Confusion and the party seemed disorganized under the effect of the spell. Hiso harried the creature while Requiem’s summoned aurochs trampled it over and over. Hendel fizzled many lightning bolts against it but a few snuck through. Its cowardly nature revealed, the Rakshasa fled into another room, avoiding the Acid Pit spell thrown by Hendel. A swirling human-sized mirror framed in mithral was imbedded in one wall. It spat a word in Abyssal and leaped into it, vanishing with a flash.
  9. The confusion ended and the party looted the fiend’s chamber, finding opium, valuable rugs and mounds of gold, silver and platinum. An arcane-locked teakwood box was both valuable and resistant to opening. They would have to tackle that another time. Six flayed human corpses hung from meat hooks: a tattered banner identified them as Braimen and his party of paladins.

Hiso managed to nuzzle the lock on the teakwood box open. Something wonderous glowed inside…Hendel glanced at the mirror, whispering the Abyssal word he memorized and saw something within…

Session 6: Everything Zehn in the Upper Temple

Losing no time in identifying Scramge’s treasure, the party split up loot, rested and prepared spells. Scramge’s mirror, a Mirror of Doors, opened planar gateways to multiple locations, though the abyssal word he uttered before disappearing was keyed to a specific cavern. They whispered the word and entered the portal.

Trash and refuse covered much. Holy symbols to Orcus and crude pictures of suffering abounded. A foul odor permeated this level and an oppressive force caused Az and Aribon to feel as if they might retch. The demon prince’s power filled the air like heavy poison. Only minutes passed before they tripped an arcane alarm that echoed in the cavern. Scuffling was heard in the distance.

Wading through sludge, they met a talkative, semi-intelligent otyugh. Trading rations with it, the creature brought back magic items of power from the slough. Leaving it behind, they next encountered a small tribe of ogres, clumsily putting on armor. Blasted with spell and weapon, only one ogre remained. He promised to show the party to the “temple” and take them to Zehn, the lord of the level. Az and Morgrimm prevented the ogre from unleashing a portcullis/black pudding trap and forced him to move on.

They found the temple entrance and the living quarters of the debased priests. They avoided opening wooden chests and headed to a hallway door where a glyph of warding blasted the room. Beyond the hall was a set of double doors rimed with frost and depictions of demons cavorting with mortals Caution avoided the Feeblemind trap and the doors opened onto a scene of horror: the illusion of ice melted away as Hendel saw through it, instead revealing an area wreathed in flame. Above a lava pit, Zehn, high-priest of Orcus greeted and congratulated them. Without listening to poison words, the heroes attacked.

Zehn and his priests revealed themselves to be juju zombies. The magma pit spouted flames but did not harm the undead. Scramge was in the room, covered in illusion and invisibility and launched lightning bolts and phantasmal killer spells, screaming curses about his stolen spellbook. Zehn screamed, “Nadroj!” and an arcane spectre flanked the party from behind, raining black tentacles and lightning bolts. A fiery dragon, ten-feet long, emerged from the lava pool. Tucker shouted a warning about the magma dragon.

Tucker and Hendel used blasting spells as well as black tentacles and stinking cloud to hold off evil. Morgrimm used see invisibility to find Scramge. The arrogant rakshasa stood in front of the party, pelting them with spells. When Tucker cast glitter dust on the creature, it knew its folly as Az, Morgrimm, Rocknut and Hiso surrounded it. The juju zombies channeled energy into the middle of the party after the magma dragon breathed a torrent of flame. Hendel and Tucker used levitate and fly to escape the carnage but still faced Nadroj from behind. Requiem continued to summon and direct his eidolon.

As Morgrimm slew the dragon and the zombie acolytes fell, Zehn began to panic. Aribon struggled to heal so many of his fallen comrades, but in the end the tide turned. Zehn ran from his perch and into a summoning circle. Two vrock demons erupted in a sulfurous clatter. The vulture demons attacked the fighters but could not withstand Morgrimm, Az and Rocknut’s combined strength. Hiso squared off against Zehn and avoided the priest’s slay living spell. Zehn went down under ax and tooth. The vrocks fell, screaming in piles ash and smoke. Only the spectre, Nadroj, remained. Seeing Rocknut flying towards it, the spectre flew across the room to blast Hendel with magic missiles. The wizard dropped, scorched and dead before Rocknut could destroy Nadroj. The spectre dissipated, chuckling and laughing as it went, “the Master will bring me back.”

In a secret chamber, treasure was piled high. Yet Hendel’s soul seemed gone forever. The party mourned their comrade and began planning their escape from Rappan Athuk. Aribon pledged fealty to Requiem and promised to rid Golarion of the taint of Orcus.

Session 7: Goblins are Evil

Stuffing Hendel’s body into the bag of holding, they debated on the next course of action. While waiting for Aribon to consecrate the temple, they finished exploring the third level, rescuing Zorian the archer and Pradish from the clutches of filthy, squeeking goblins. While Pradish agreed to gather troops and secure the temple, Zorian joined the party.

  • In a series of octagonal rooms, they found a floating skull surrounded by skeletons and catatonic goblins. The skull spoke, introducing itself as the oracle. For offerings of souls, valuables or lives it would reveal all. Offering his magical bow, Az discovered the command word to free Scramge’s prisoner from the gem: A faerie dragon named Snaggletooth joined the party. Talking incessantly, the dragon decided to remain with Pradish. They left the mysterious oracle behind.
  • Returning to Egede, Crusader Vanreim informed them that Arkandor, the gnome Nemedian merchant, still wished to get his ship back. They spoke to the gnome but decided the risk of a dragon was too much and the gnome’s story lacking detail.
  • They scryed on the gnoll, Najak, and his Marrow Reavers, finding them deep underground. A divination spell told Aribon that they were “Beyond the halls of Kalath and before the goblin city.” It seemed the evil mercenaries were also inside Rappan Athuk.
  • They explored for some time on a sixth level, finding giant spider webs and a black obelisk that seemed to be of neothelid origin. Unable to find an entry they, went up to a parallel side level of the fourth.
  • Natural caverns abounded and they discovered a nest of basilisks. Fighting blindly and averting the gaze attacks, the heroes slew the creatures before continuing.
  • Rocknut flew over yellow mold only to set off a falling block trap and squished him against the mold. More traps, magical and mundane, filled a corridor. Hiso smelled goblins and he wasn’t disappointed. The giggling psychopaths were ready for the party in a large cavern. Skeletal warrior monks engaged Az and Morgrimm, bringing both low before they were healed. The goblin rangers concentrated on the dwarves and flyers while an invisible wizard launched fire into the party. At one point, Tucker was shot from the sky by a scorching ray. Zorian picked the goblins off from a distance and Rocknut and Requiem concentrated on dimension-dooring past the chasm to do battle with the goblin casters. Hiso joined them while Aribon healed. Before falling, Tucker confused the goblin rangers, sowing chaos in their ranks. The last goblin fell, leaving the party wondering what horrors must await them in the goblin city of Grezneck.
Sesson 8: Under the Well

Morgrimm helped secure the Upper Temple along with Pradish and the low templar mercenaries. Hiso, Azrond, Tucker, Requiem and Zorian gathered Aribon and returned to the parallel fourth level where they encountered the deadly goblin band.

  • North of the goblin encounter, Rocknut explored a deep, clear pool of water and awakened a gargantuan, red ooze. Tucker recognized this as a Carnivorous Blob, a cousin of the black pudding and twice as deadly. They watched the Blob tear apart rocknut with two pseudopod attacks, then multiply itself before running back to the temple area.
  • They waited a few hours and returned. The Blob seemed to have returned to a dormant state. They explored the rest of the basilisk caverns and were surprised by twelve Carrion Crawlers. They made quick work of the creatures. Many victims of the basilisks were displayed around a pool. Az used the salve of Stone to Flesh to free an ax-wielding dwarf. The dwarf pledged himself to the party and stated his nickname was “Giblet.” After a display of skill, Az determined their new friend was best-suited to guarding the temple. Rocknut found an underwater tunnel that led to a deeper level. Hiso smelled bovine creatures and surmised that both minotaurs and goblins had been near the pool. Rocknut spied on a group of goblins on the deeper level, but left.
  • The party returned to the skull oracle on the third level and posed this question after sacrificing an Amulet of mighty Fists, “Where will we locate artifacts that would be useful in battling Orcus?” After some banter, the skull replied, “In the lair of Slavish, the Arch-Lich, lies the sword Demonbane. Slavish is no friend to Orcus. He lairs in a ‘giant’ cavern deep in Rappan Athuk accessed by passing through the home of Banth, the transmuter, then traversing ‘the Mazes’ before going to to the ‘Tomb of the Evil King.’” The skull hinted at more direct routes, but the party refused to sacrifice more.
  • A set of stairs in the basilisk caverns led up to a parallel third level. A room with four suspended doors appeared to lead to other locations. One showed a temple-like area in Rappan Athuk, populated by Orcus priests. Another led to a cavern, while a third seemed a fuzzy and indecipherable. The fourth showed a woodland setting. Hiso tested this but instead found himself in an unknown cavernous area. He quickly stepped back through the portal and they left the doors behind.
  • Tucker’s Stinking Cloud spell dispersed a colony of hundreds of stirge swarms and hordes of skeletons were easily destroyed. They found a cliff overlooking a pool of water. Hiso and Rocknut surprised a pack of Displacer Beasts and their Packlord. Finding his hated enemies, Hiso attacked, but the Packlord proved powerful and destroyed Rocknut again. They fled, rested, and returned the next day. Before they could battle the Displacers, Rat Swarms attacked and a Black Pudding emerged from the pool. Once destroyed, they flew to the cliffs and made quick work of the displacer creatures, noting a passageway leading deep into the dungeon.
  • To their surprise, sunlight filtered from far above in another cave and they realized they were directly under the well, having found the level through an alternate route. Rocknut again explored the pool of water under the well and found a magically-sealed hatch under the silt, with three identical slits that seemed to be formed for a dagger-sized blade. They tried multiple small blades but none fit.
  • Avoiding the river and a large pool, they examined two corpses displayed on a bier. Dread Wraiths rose from the bodies and attempted to drain Az and Aribon. They were blasted and the bodies put to rest. Hiso found a secret passage beneath a cliff and they followed it to where it dead-ended in a wall where a panel contained three arm-sized holes. Runes instructed the user to open the door by inserting an arm but warned that there arms might be chopped off. Tucker used the corpse arms, but could not grasp the levers inside the holes. He then summoned an unseen servant. Two holes activated an arm-chopper trap while the third simply opened a magical door. Energy surged forth and Tucker identified a silent Alarm spell.
  • They walked into a trapezoidal chamber. “The Walls and Ceiling are a glossy black stone. At the far end of the room, white stone stairs lead down into a lowered area. You cannot see the floor of the lowered area from where you stand. Four 12-foot tall iron statues of warriors in armor carrying large swords stand guard in the four corners of the room — two in the upper level and two in the lower portion of the room. The statues are very well made and appear almost alive. The two statues furthest away from you appear somewhat rusty, though the two nearest show no signs of wear. You feel a darkness taking hold of your very soul as the two statues near you exhale a greenish gas. A cackling comes from the lower area and you see the ghostly form of a wizened man melt into the floor. You remember the scratched warning on a tombstone in the graveyard above: Don’t go down the Well.”
Session 9: Don't Go Down the Well!

The spectral figure of a wizened, empty-eyed man disappeared into a translucent crystal box on top of a pedestal. Two of the iron statues animated and the golems attacked. The heroes — Hiso, Snaggletooth riding Hiso, Azrond, Zorian, Requiem with Rocknut, Aribon and Tucker — were joined by their friends who had guarded the temple. Morgrimm saw the danger in Scramge’s mirror, gathered Giblet and Pradish, and entered en force to save his companions.

  • A magical fear shakened the party while a supernatural darkness settled in. Aribon and Zorian had difficulty seeing until Aribon dispelled it with Sarcek’s shield.
  • Aribon, Morgrimm, Requiem and Tucker bolstered the party and magic potions were quaffed as the golems moved in. With Greater Magic Weapon in place, it seemed that Az and Morgrimm might take down the golems quickly. Hiso teleported in to help flank the constructs while Rocknut flew in and delivered mighty blows. They learned to avoid the fists of the iron golems. A single blow almost felled several of the heroes and Aribon’s healing power was put to the test. He called upon Iomedae to prevail in the place of darkness. Zorian’s arrows were many, though he fumbled and lost his adamantine darts, many of them connected, shattering the golems.
  • The undead presence reached out to both Azrond and Morgrimm, attempting a Magic Jar effect. The heroes shrugged it off, but not before hearing the ghostly voice of the spectre-lich, Zelkor. “I am the chosen of Orcus. Obey me!” The golems breathed deeply, their poison settling into the lungs of most of the party. Zelkor gave up the Magic Jar attempt; the party felt his true might as an Empowered Fireball launched from the crystal, both incinerating many of the heroes and repairing the golems. The constructs moved in, healed and whole, and dealt devestating blows. Aribon attempted to heal the damage, but it seemed Orcus’ power prevailed inside the shrine.
  • Pradish, the half-orc, fell as another fireball erupted. Tucker launched a final spell, before the poison gas sucked out his life. Giblet rushed in with his axe, only to have his skull crushed in by a golem. Trying to save his companions, Aribon unleashed the full healing power of Iomedae; it wasn’t enough when the gas filled him and a golem connected with his rib cage. Requiem used Rocknut to help the rest of the party flee towards the well entrance. Hiso teleported to the crystal box, thinking to undo the power magic inside. An enormous treasure chest tempted him and he reached in ethereally to steal a tiny, toothpick-sized sword (later found to be “Azathor”, a size-shifting longsword). A bad feeling washed over him regarding the gem inside the crystal box and Hiso fled along with Requiem. Rocknut carried Zorian and Morgrimm to safety as spells dropped the archer. He returned for Azrond who held the line. The paladin nearly destroyed a golem, yet braced himself as Zelkor emerged from the box and flew towards him. Spells and golem fists dropped Azrond. The other golem smashed Snaggletooth into a butterfly-colored pulp. As Rocknut returned for the paladin, the eidolon arrived in time to see Zelkor cackling as he corrupted Az and an undead spectre of the paladin emerged from his fallen body. “Yes, flee heroes! I have what I want and the Master will reward me!”
  • They skirted the wilderness and filled their sad days with tales of the fallen comrades. No more jokes or pranks from Snaggletooth. No shaven Az dreaming of dwarven artifacts. Tucker could no longer dream of finding his pig or save the party with Black Tentacles. Pradish and Giblet never had a chance to prove themselves and Aribon and his Shining Shield were lost forever.
  • Returning to Egede, Captain Vanreim’s grizzled features provided little sympathy. Yet the threats inside Rappan Athuk were more apparent than ever. He diverted two more promising candidates away from the campaign in the World Wound and introduced the party to them. Drusk, a fierce half-orc fighter wielding a greatsword, and Fvarig, a distant dwarf cousin of Azrond and cleric of Torag, who willingly took up his relative’s quest for dwarven artifacts. Vanreim offered news of the front and the challenge with maintaining the wardstones, saying parties sent behind the lines had disappeared and there was a need for strong heroes to find their remains and bolster the wards containing the demons. The party declined, vengeance burning in them, and returned to Rappan Athuk. Hiso left Vanreim with one piece of advice, “Don’t go Down the Well.”
  • Miles from the dungeon entrance, the newly-formed group smelled sulfur and found two huge-sized pig demons on the beach, eating a giant crab. The Orusula demons charged, tusks splitting the heroes wide and infecting Hiso and Drusk with demon fever. After destroying the creatures, Fvarig removed the disease. A bloated zombie mob emerged from the sea-like lake the next day, only to be destroyed from a distance. Crab swarms emerged from the zombies and quickly dispersed.
  • Hiso urged the party to look for the gnome, Arkandor’s, ship instead of returning to the dungeon and tragedy. Fvarig used divination to determine that the ship rested 15 miles east of Rappan Athuk, firmly putting it deep in the Lake of Mists and Veils. Using Rocknut as a makeshift vessel, the party flew or rode the eidolon towards the site. They found a small island and noticed a crumbling ruin at its northern end. Remembering the rumor of the orange dragon, they instead used water breathing and other spells to look for the ship under the waves.
  • They found the vessel, but also an enormous guardian, a shipwrecker crab of colossal proportions. Crushed in its claws, Drusk almost became the next victim, but through a combination of ranged attacks and spells, the crab’s shell split open and they saved the half-orc. Fearing more guardians under the water, they party carefully went ashore and found a small grove to rest in. Hiso and Rocknut went invisible the next morning and crept towards the ruins, finding a deep pool of water and an enormous pile of treasure gleaming in one corner, but no dragon.
  • Eager to loot the ruins, the party walked past the pool and began to push the treasure into a bag of holding, only to see the illusion disappear and two magical traps materialize. A Ball Lightning spell and an Aqueous Orb erupted from the water. Rocknut and Hiso flew/teleported to a nearby wall while Zorian, Drusk, Morgrimm and Fvarig dealt with the spells. A huge, orange draconic figure became visible inside the pool. As it dropped the disguise and illusion, it’s briny scales turned silver-blue. Acidic salt and spittle speckled the party as it spoke gurgling draconic. They had found the dragon of the Lake.
Session 10: Horrid Wilting Salty Death

Dragon fear washed over them. Hiso and Fvarig began to shake. The Aqueous Orb and Ball Lightning trap attacked them as the bluish dragon watched. Drusk was carried by the orb before escaping and the Ball Lightning swarmed over Morgrimm and Fvarig. Hiso teleported to the trap origination and found the runes of power, deactivating the trap. Yet the dragon watched on. It rumbled in various languages the party could not comprehend before landing on elven and dwarven dialects. It pointed at Rocknut and a simple Dismissal banished the eidolon from the material plane. Requiem fled the scene in dragon-panic.

  1. The reptile seemed obsessed with perfection, noting perceived flaws in Drusk’s sword, how unattached and easily dismissed Rocknut was and the imperfect nature of Hiso’s invisibility. It called out Fvarig’s Divine Favor spell, noting its incomplete attachment to his god and that the majority of Zorian’s arrows missed. A deep echoing sound seemed to be a yawn. It offered to give the party everything in Arkandor’s ship in exchange for swearing fealty to it and performing tasks. Fvarig, Zorian and Morgrimm refused. Water Breathing and Water Walking spells allowed the party to do combat with the creature. Zorian pulled a special arrow from his quiver and sunk it deep into the dragon’s flesh. A flash of anger swept over the beast.
  2. Drusk bit deep with his greatsword. Instead of breathing acid, it swept over Drusk with rage, reducing him to small bits of flesh with its bite, claws and tail slam. Pieces of Drusk floated on top of the pool. Zorian continued to sink arrows into the creature, while Morgrimm and Hiso flanked it. Morgrimm’s ax drew gouts of blood. Fvarig cast Protection from Energy-Acid just in time. The flume of briny acid-spray swept the party, but the spell held. The dragon continued to fight with its natural weapons and Fvarig struggled to heal his friends. Finally, it seemed to yawn, concentrated for a moment, and unleashed a devastating Horrid Wilting spell. Morgrim and Fvarig perished instantly as their bodies dried up and withered. Hiso’s fur fell out and both he and Zorian collapsed, unconscious.
  3. When next Hiso and Zorian awoke, they were washed up on the beach close to Rappan Athuk, atop a crude raft. Hiso seemed to have developed a nervous twitch and severe case of mange. His head rested on Zorian’s fully naked form. They were stripped of all valuables, though the dragon had left a large sack of gems and gold in exchange. Cryptic phrases were written on Zorian’s back. The archer vowed to only help fortify the temple and not pursue greater danger. They returned to Egede, Zorian equipping himself and returning to the Upper Temple with Requiem to watch the low templars while Hiso gathered new comrades. Requiem promised to find Hiso inside Rappan Athuk.
  4. After some explaining and excuses to Captain Vanreim, Hiso found the snobbish Sir Wellington Forsythe III, Sunny the cheerful cleric of Saranrae, Feldor the holy warrior and Thannon the elf wizard.
  5. The new party in hand, Hiso shared the stories, warning of the Well and the dragon island and took his party on a tour of Rappan Athuk. Once inside, they skirted the outside of the Well level and took the passage behind the Displacer Beast cave. It led to a deep level of mazes where they were attacked by strange minotaurs with the ability to phase into the ethereal. Shrugging off a strange confusion gas, the party found a large cavern where they were ambushed by Kazleth the Phase Minotaur King and his 12 disciples. Kazleth’s vorpal great axe dealt mighty blows but well-placed fireballs destroyed the minotaurs, while Hiso tripped their king and they cut him into bloody pieces.
  6. Further in the level, Sunny and Thannon fragged a group of goblins with Fireball spells, incinerating their offerings to Kazleth. They recovered a good deal of treasure and took one of three passages further down.
  7. A carved passageway led to a level that Hiso approximated as Level 9. Drums thrummed to the south. Chanting and moans reached them. Blood-splattered robes hung on crude hooks on the wall. They followed the chanting down a hallway, to a set of double doors covered with motifs of suffering and Orcus ruling a land of undead. Hiso found no traps and dimension-doored in. The party burst open the doors, setting off a Glyph of Bestow Curse. Cowled and cloaked figures watched them and stopped beating the ritual drums. Two bubbling pools of blood flanked a dozen priests. A stony golem emerged from a corner. Their leader spoke, “Welcome. You are expected. I am Gudmund.” He lifted his cowl. Worms dropped by the hundreds to the floor. Where a body should have been, was a writhing mass of red worms. He called, “Glezbigith!” and a huge, pincer-clawed demon materialized in one corner. Unhallow, Fear, Darkness and Dispel Good effects filled the temple. The party trembled.

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