To Err Is Divine

Multi-Session Summary 4
In which our heroes press forward, only to turn around

A long, long tunnel led our heroes an incredible distance into the limestone, strange markings along the walls making it look as though something had made this hole by chewing and clawing its way free. Instead of a warren, the party emerged into a cavernous cathedral, complete with exquisite architectural touches. Surely this place would hold a wealth of ancient knowledge and treasure. But when they found what remained of the cathedral’s library, all the writings had been literally devoured by strange, shriveled zombies that skittered across the walls like spiders! These disgusting fiends leaped to gorge themselves on the many books the party had looted from Gumulgra’s hut, but our heroes managed to fend them off, slicing and blasting until the bones stopped moving.

The library was a total loss, but a secret door on the back wall led into some kind of hidden laboratory. Veren picked open a chest therein and found a mask with no holes or marking aside from some filigree swirls. After a quick inspection by Rodnee confirming the blank metal oval’s magical nature, Veren slid it onto his face and found he could see everything nearby, even in utter darkness, and could sense movements along the ground out to 50 yards. He also found the mask would not come off. Like, at all. And beyond 50 yards he could see and sense nothing; this was a minor inconvenience for a marksman, to say the least. So much for Rodnee’s inspection.

This ancient cathedral still held more unpleasant surprises for the party. A lower room housed strange flying creatures of stone that tried to shock them unconscious while tomb spider swarms strived to boil their blood. Power from that room’s puzzle activated an obstacle course of leaping and climbing between rotating platforms and banners over 200 feet above the unyielding stone floor. A combination of Starkad’s stellar climbing skills and teamwork from the whole party got them to the final platform, where the magical Treatise on Skyswimming awaited, granting its bearer short-term flight a limited number of times. And at long last, when Partyocalypse emerged out the other side of the underground passage, they found a smoky, scorching caldera miles across, its floor littered with glass beads. In the distance, the horizon sparkled mysteriously. They set forth to—wait, what’s that feeling? The plane of fire? This place is connected to the plain of fire?! Fuck that, we out!

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Multi-session Summary 3
To the sands!

Gotullihein is a bustling marketplace during the day. At night, our party found it transforms into a veritable circus of fighting bouts, drinking, gambling, and all manner of vices. There are five stages to a night well spent in Gotullihein. Most of the party enjoyed taking people’s money at the promised card game hosted in the saloon Denial. In the gladiatorial Pits of Anger, several of our heroes proved their physical might. Sunflash ended up in a draw with the reigning champion, a boastful Goliath with multicolored braids named Wonbrai, but after the match he made a different kind of move, and they took their physical exertions to a more private venue. Jory was more interested in the enchanted objects on display in the three-tiered marketplace known simply as Bargaining, searching for a new sword. In his haggling, he bumped into a haughty Eladrin calling herself Starswirl the Braided, leaving a bad taste in his mouth. By then, everyone was ready to hit the sack at the D’Presh Inn to recharge for the treacherous journey the next day. Alas, no one made it to the brothel Acceptance.

As fearsome as its reputation may be, few truly understand the nigh-impossibility of traveling through the Thrashing Sands. Obviously, the intense heat is ever-present, baking skin, superheating armor, and parching throats, while at night the empty sky leaves the sand frigid cold. Once one is truly in the desert proper, the winds are so intense the sand leaps up in unpredictable waves, threatening to topple travelers, mounts, and especially top-heavy sleds. The dunes actively shift, foiling even the most skilled navigator. The tedium of the repetitive landscape is distracting at best, maddening at worst. And to top it all off, deadly and void as they may be, these environs still play host to swarms of bloodsuckers seeking to drain one’s vital fluids. In short, fuck deserts.

Partyocalypse managed to hold up though, battening down the hatches, shifting their sled’s load, recounting legends and tales of their exploits past, and using the stars to find their way. Starkad even kept the bugs away with some jerky hung on a stick behind the sled. And so, what others have too often found deadly became mere inconveniences for our heroes, and before too long they finally found something besides sand: a towering bluff of white stone, with huge, featureless statues carved into its face and strange stone mechanisms arrayed before a door. Before heading inside, the party fiddled with these white marble columns, and Sunflash punched one so hard it lit up and released a glowing white scarf covered in golden scales. This proved a useful, independent light source as they pressed forward into the surprisingly cool darkness.

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Multi-Session Summary 2
Wasting the Witch of the Wastes

Alas, the party faced a broken cart! Purchased in Gotullihein, it had a special contraption that allowed it to switch between wheeled cart and a sled on rails, making it perfect for desert crossings. The first time the party tried to use it, the system broke, necessitating repairs right on the edge of the sands, where our heroes felt the unmistakeable sensation of being watched. Nothing emerged to attack them, and then they were off!

Even just two chickabobs were enough to send them flying across the sands. There was a brief moment of panic with a fist-sized wasp harassing them, and when it was dead a mysterious ray fish that could glide through the sand gobbled it up. There was a whole school of them following the cart closely, but a quick blast of power from Jory sent them flapping away.

The protections the witch had arranged for herself were many, and varied. The oni who had been run off returned in hot pursuit of the heroes, disfigured and warped by its own alchemical draughts. The party dispatched it and its disturbing snake-dogs with prejudice. A forest made of trees with exploding fruit blinded and deafened them, but they pressed through with no permanent damage. A keen eye spotted feathers warning them of harpies lying in wait ahead, with whom the party negotiated safe passage in exchange for freeing the winged wretches from Gumulgra’s painful extortion.

At long last, the witch’s hut was before the party, situated on a rise within a wide crag. An attempt to break in stealthily from the rear of the compound backfired when an enchantment threw the intruding PCs directly into the large, dirt-floored pit that took up much of the hut. From above, the amused Gumulgra revealed the parties quest-giver was also the witch’s patron, though he was clearly so unsatisfied with her work enchanting his well that he sent the PCs to assassinate her. Despite this revelation, the PCs were convinced of her evil, and rushed to engage her.

Gumulgra was all too eager to do battle. At first, she shot bolts of power down at our heroes while she floated above on her broomstick, cackling. A lucky strike destroyed her ability to fly, but the space filled with a dark, obscuring fog, and the witch proved her bo staff skills with a litheness that belied her years. Through cooperation, the PCs managed to gravely wound the witch, causing her to retreat to the platforms above, tossing down potions at random. The very first to score a hit was accidentally a healing potion, re-energizing the party! Though the witch rallied near her bubbling cauldron, she was no match for the combined efforts of all five party members, and in what may have been her death throes, she dissolved into hundreds of squirming centipedes.

In no time at all, the party had scoured everything of value from the hut, including the broken, empty harpy eggshells they humbly returned to their grief-stricken mothers. No further conflict arose, and our heroes were free to return to the Land of the Seven pools without incident, to claim their prize and put the squeeze on Ishkar for his treachery.

Swapping their supplies in preparation for a long journey through the desert, Partyocalypse was almost ready to depart and continue their original quest for Ioun’s Lost Library—but first, the night was young, and there was revelry to be had…

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Multi-Session Summary
New Faces

Upon entering the Leafless Ridge, our five heroes were forewarned of dangerous traps in the road through their compassion for a pack of wolves. Not much farther along, they were all but caught off guard by a group of barghests under the command of two oni. Partyocalypse prevailed, but most of their Chickabob mounts were savaged, and one oni escaped, swearing vengeance.

Farther along in the rattling, dry trees, our three heroes stumbled upon…wait, only three? Weren’t there more? It’s not as though anyone died…strange. The three bearing the name Partyocalypse happened upon an odd pair of wanderers: Starkad, the goliath Runpriest, and Rodnee, a warforged Swordmage. These two had just managed to escape the Efreeti castle near the edge of the Thrashing Sands, and were eager to get as far away from their captors as quickly as they could. Three did seem too few a crew to do what heroes do, so these two came through as new recruits. Phew!

Just in time for the cart to break down.

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Session: August 18, 2015
Old Men Rambling

Side Quest: Witch Hunt

Objective: Remove the curse Gumulgra, the Witch of the Wastes, has placed on Ishkar the Waterlord’s well.
Reward: Magical 200 gallon water tank (Wondrous Item)
Optional: Present proof of Gumulgra’s demise to Ishkar
Reward: 2,000 GP

Facing the daunting task of bringing along enough water to survive in the Thrashing Sands, our heroes met with Ishkar, waterlord of the only non-magical well in Gotullihein. A witch named Gumulgra, well known among the locals for her harmful exploits, had cursed his well, depriving him of product and the trade-post city of its largest volume commodity. In exchange for questing to her hideout to break the evil spell, Ishkar offered them a wondrous magical water tank, able to hold hundreds of gallons and dispense it either ice cold or scalding hot, with a bonus in cash for the witch’s severed head. Side-quest accepted!

Before leaving town, Partyocalypse sought more information from the town locals at a bar called Denial. There, they found three old men eager to discuss past exploits and take advantage of our heroes’ generosity. On and on they droned, talking about rumors of banditry in the nearby Leafless Ridge, the business opportunities for foragers in the Popper Forest, and even loony tales of the gods’ ancient feuds revolving around their pets. Veren sat in rapt attention, but the rest were near passing out with boredom, especially after the bartender failed to live up to her reputation for reckless gambling. At last they were able to tear Veren away, and begin the long trek northeast toward their bounty’s hideout.

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Partyocalypse
Humble Beginnings

Legendary Revelry

Though somewhat rare on the whole, more than a few adventuring groups have wandered the face of the world. Some are remembered for the treasures they chased. Others made their mark by the foes they vanquished, whether ferocious monsters, scheming villains, or warmongering tyrants. A select few are even remembered in the songs of the bards for the mighty deeds they performed, the name of their guild echoing through the ages.

Partyocalypse, on the other hand, is known for throwing a party.

This was no ordinary celebration. Certainly, the people of Usaw were grateful to be rid of the pretentious necromancer that had been bent on their destruction. The heroes, sent by the council of nearby Tigora, even assisted in the preparations for their own congratulatory feast. As they drank and danced late into the night, the full hedonistic energy of the Feywild itself suffused the hosting inn, and a mysterious water brought bacchanalian delight to all who partook.

Then, it all blew sky high.

The well at the center of the celebration erupted with destructive energy, ripping apart the building and the revelers. Some kind of entity was released, and other fiends surged forth to plague the town. Even once these monsters had been subdued, our brave adventurers were far from absolved. Through many trials, deep in the forest of Mossweave, they washed their hands of the village’s ills, and returned to the great city-state of Tigora to ply their trade as swords for hire.

Having heard of a particularly lucrative opportunity to work for the king of the dwarven city of Bur Hanv, our heroes succeeded in passing his trials and securing a contract. Now, they prepare to scour the Thrashing Sands, the deadliest desert in the known world, for a god’s library resting quietly in myth. But first, they’ll need water…

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