To Err Is Divine

An Unexpected Showdown
What is even happening

The path to the scrolls the king sent you after is wide open. Nothing is stopping you from jogging to the bottom floor, grabbing as many as you can, and hightailing it out of here…except, in the opposite direction, something clearly nefarious is going on. You don’t fully understand who’s perpetrating it, or what they’re trying to do, or even how you might be able to disrupt it, but…no one else knows it’s happening. You are the only people who could possibly put a stop to whatever it is. But then again, if you take too long trying to deal with the machinations upstairs, the scrolls you need will burn up, along with the rest of the knowledge stored here, and your quest will fail. So, what’s your plan?

…Split the party? This could be the single greatest danger Partyocalypse has ever faced, compounded by the staggering number of unknown factors involved, and your plan is to violate the cardinal rule of dungeon delving?

Alright then, let’s see how that works out for you.

Veren is the fastest, so he rushes downstairs to get the scrolls, while everybody else heads upstairs to confront The Chronicler. The library is bizarre, every floor filled with decorations and illusions that give them very different characters, not to mention obstacles to overcome. Wild sea waves, some kind of marketplace, a raven-filled graveyard, on and on…it’s all so complicated! Whoever designed this place went way overboard.

Two floors up from the entry level, The Chronicler is manipulating some kind of spell dynamo with his bloat-headed accomplices. There is something horrible hovering in wide-open space above, invisible but terrifying beyond comprehension. The bracers you never did fully test out float in the spell energy, opening enormous portals on either side of the library. Inside their gold and violet rims of smoke, totally alien forms twist and distort, seeking escape. Shit. Is. Fucked.

All four of those who ascended launch into a full on assault, but the old man’s body bursts into dust upon taking even the slightest wound. It can’t be that easy, right? Sure enough, even as Rodnee rushes upstairs, splitting the party again, The Chronicler reappears in a burst of caustic obsidian ink, laughing maniacally. Over and over Starkad and Sunflash cut him down, only to fall under his furious assault after another acidic restoration. Rodnee tries to ascend towards the creepy body invaders, but the library’s strange displays confound quick progress with shifting floors and illusory crowds. Jory flies straight up under Treatise power, brazenly flying straight towards whatever terrifying entity lurks there. When he should collide with it, he is instead captivated by a vision of an un-place, where a negative reflection of himself reaches out with a wicked grin.

Veren isn’t faring much better. Even after 434 guides him to the bottom floor, the drawers he needs to open are trapped shut by strange, metallic vines that pulse with magical energy. He claws at them, but they won’t budge, he shoots two bolts point blank, but the vines aren’t even scratched. They’re snaked everywhere, all over the shelves full of ancient manuscripts around the outer wall. As the glow out there grows brighter, the books and scrolls disintegrate. Veren redoubles his efforts as this wave of destruction slowly works its way to him.

Starkad falls under The Chronicler’s devious spells, and Sunflash rushes to his aid. Feeling victorious, The Chronicler follows the other two heroes upstairs. This leaves Sunflash free to revive his endangered comrade, and together they work to address the spell dynamo. It’s disintegration power has already worked its way down this far from the top floor, twisting the decorative illusions into deadly, horrific displays of very real danger. The machine is controlled by a set of cone-shaped devices, the instructions for which are written as a riddle involving wise men and hats. Starkad guesses wrong, and the resulting blast sends him back into a gravely wounded state.

Words shake around and through Jory in the un-place, “SO THAT’S WHERE THEY HID YOU…” but then he’s through, back in the library, and he moves quickly to help Rodnee dispatch the alien creatures. The Chronicler appears as if from nowhere, throwing ensorcelled parchment and shouting words of binding. Over and over he dies, reviving instantly from somewhere above.

Veren focuses all his efforts on cracking open one drawer, successfully pulling out a single, radiant blue scroll. It will have to do. He dashes up, up, up the treacherous library floors, intent upon the escape portal, but the entry room has lost all its gravity! Spheres of rock fling themselves round and round a great ball of fire in the chamber’s center,and Jory’s basket of kittens is on a collision course with it! Veren’s acrobatics don’t fail him, and he snags the basket, managing fly through the exit portal on the same arc. At least one of you will survive and fulfill the quest.

One more guess at the riddle. No good, and now it’s too late. Every tome is destroyed in an instant. The being in the air rips apart The Chronicler, feeding his dust into the portals. They explode with power! A scream of infinite voices drowns out all thought. A light unmatched by any sun bursts forth, shattering the walls, flattening everyone to the ground.

All is silent.

A glimpse…just a glimpse of…a face. The perfect face…shining, smiling, wreathed in its own light. “Yes,” a voice promises, radiant and enveloping. “I think I shall make you mine.” Then, darkness.

The Hidden Demi-Plane
Did everyone remember their library card?

There’s got to be a way to stop falling through this pit. You’ve figured out it’s not actually bottomless, you’re just looping through the same section over and over. Starkad, devout student of the Swoly Bible, arrests his fall against the rough, mortared stone wall and makes his way to a unlit brazier. That was in Kickapoo’s song about this place, right? So, next, you’ve got to light it. Once everyone else manages to stop falling and get close, he lights it and…aha! A glowing green symbol stretching across the space below. See? Progress! Say, haven’t you seen that symbol before? The five points around a concentric circle: that was all over Gumulgra the witch’s stuff. Hrmmm.

Someone is ballsy and jumps off the wall, down towards the symbol. As they tumble past from above (over and over), they report the symbol never grows closer or farther away in their vision, even though it also hasn’t moved in yours. Soooo, what now?

The next part of the song was something about whispering secrets. All right then, sound off. Sunflash killed his father; woof, heavy. Jory killed himself to get away from a nagging wife, whaaat? Rodnee is carving himself a wooden penis?! (I’ll have to review with Ben and Brian about what they revealed, I don’t want to give away the wrong secret).

Okay, so, that was all very…eye-opening. And hey, it worked, you all come to be standing on the symbol, which morphs slightly, and now you’re in a city of broken jade. Every building, even the bridge you’re standing on, is made from beautiful, swirling, crumbling green rock. A sandstorm whips around the whole place; that’s probably the edge of this demi-plane. And that giant, floating spire at the end of the bridge that’s completely intact and made of white jade is probably the library, go go go!

Stop stop stop! That was a laser, and it nearly cut Starkad in two! And whoever fired it sounds…really apologetic? Maybe have somebody else take a peek. Hey, why didn’t it fire on Sunflash? Or Jory, or Veren, or Rod—ouch, okay, no, Rodnee, you stay back behind the wall with Starkad. It’s some weird security system or something, look, the laser shoots from that glowing orb replacing an angel’s head on that statue, and there’s plates on the ground, and other statues with mirrors…yeah, hang tight guys, the other three will get this puzzle sorted out.

Boom! Statue destroyed, laser turned off, and weird, silvery, wireframe orb with a glowing center rescued from a really boring imprisonment. What the hell kind of name is “434 Blameless Flame?” Wait, this limey sphere says that white spire is the lost Archive of Ioun, and it can direct you to the scrolls you want! Finally, you can grab the quest items, turn them over to the king, and get your just rew-oh what the hells, a force field?! And who is this super old guy blocking the door? 434 calls him the Chronicler, but even as decrepit as this dude looks in his surprisingly pristine black and silver robes, he seems a little too spry to be a human over three hundred years old.

At first he’s all, “Turn back, entry is forbidden,” but then you lay out the whole story of how you got here and what you’re here for, and he turns into a welcoming host. The main floor has a stone apparatus the Chronicler says is for a kind of de-contamination, which makes sense. It’s got that same symbol on the floor that you saw in the bottomless pit. So, what, you just stand here and then—ZZZAP!

Starkad and Rodnee are down, hit by sudden lightning. Sunflash, Veren, and Jory all scream and collapse as some giant, blade-fingered, bipedal things with bloated heads somehow emerge from them like space-twisting parasites. You remember seeing them before, below Bur Hanv, in that secret underground facility. You made a deal with them in that room of pitch black. They would grant just about any wish, and in exchange, they just wanted to travel with you, although they failed to mention it would be inside you, and that you would forget the whole encounter. Chronicler ushers them upstairs, gloating all the while about your helplessness and the futility of interfering. He even opens a one-way portal to Bur Hanv and tells you to run.

Man, fuck that guy. As soon as your strength returns, you’re gonna run up there and—uh, the symbol on the floor changed. Now it looks like a hand holding an eye in its palm. That’s Vecna’s symbol, which you somehow forgot was even a thing. Doesn’t everyone know that symbol—or does maybe…no one know it? How is that possible? And what’s Vecna’s symbol doing all over a demi-plane controlled by—

Oh shit.

Multi Session Summary 5
Deserts Still Suck

Guys. Guuuys. I’m pretty sure the glass forest you’re looking for is in the middle of that caldera. I mean, you went all the way back out to the desert and walked all around those weird white cliffs, and all you found were more collapsed temples, some angry giant fire wasps, and more book-eating, wall-crawling zombie things. I will admit it was incredibly badass when you all laid waste to those creepy things as the cart was barreling down that tunnel it barely fit through. Physically blocking the zombies from crawling across the ceiling over the cart, blowing up the queen in a huge spray of napalm, it was all great! Thrilling! But then you were just back out in the desert.

Jory flying as high as the Treatise would allow and getting a better view was a great plan. It would have been even greater if the oasis he spotted hadn’t turned out to be a huge plant trying to lure you all into its frigid acid waters, intent on turning you into more of those moss-covered bone shamblers it commanded to ambush you. And the only other thing he saw up there was that same glittering on the horizon in the middle of the caldera, right? C’mon, just go check it out, and if you don’t see glass trees right away, you can keep combing these boring old sand dunes.

Okay, so that could have gone better. But hey, you found the glass forest, right? Those sparkling trees formed from the black sand of the caldera floor, with hearts of superheated plasma were crazy! Then, when the inevitable clash with fiery beings came, you were holding your own against that pack of flaming hounds and even a Firelash elemental, too. Aaand then the sandstorm hit. Not a great experience, trying to navigate shattering trees, a glass sheet splintering beneath your feet, and even popper trees, why the fuck would they be growing here? And even when you got to the rapidly closing eye of the storm, there was just a glass spire thing and a big ol’ hole in the ground…the floor of which collapsed underfoot, dropping you into some kind of bottomless pit. Seriously, you’ve been falling for what, hours? Days?

All I’m saying is, the forest was in the caldera, so at least you’re closer to the library. Don’t worry! I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to escape this infinite pit.

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 plane of fire?! Fuck that, we out!

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.

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 party’s 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…

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.

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.

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 needed to catch a ride there on Tigora’s gryphons. In exchange, they undertook a mission beneath the sewers of Tigora, finding a secret magical laboratory that didn’t take long to start collapsing. Dashing through a lucky portal, they ended up in Bur Hanv! They succeeded in passing the king’s 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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