3/25/11: I ran an adventure from an ancient issue of Dungeon Magazine. I've been wanting to run it for a long time....
Carric Cendoria - Elf Seeker
Fayte Bonesunder - Human Paladin
Heron - Half-elf Fighter
Jurod/Jolene - Changeling Mage
* NPC Hirelings: Elmo the pandaman, Mardix the man-at-arms, Vellic the druid & Cadsvine Chaltz the seeker.
The adventurers had arrived at the city of Olwynn, capital of the kingdom of Valor, ruled by a demigod named Thennrynnia who wielded the legendary sword Blackrazor. Inside the gates, the heroes saw that everyone in the city wore very little, if any, clothing (like in the paintings of Boris Vallejo).
After almost having their horse and mule eaten by a pair of pink and purple-dyed foulwings (mounts of teenage girls getting ready to go on dates with voidsoul genasis), the heroes put their mounts in a stable. A beautiful tiefling priestess of Dispater tried to recruit the heroes, but the heroes were wary of her. She talked extensively about how much Dispater had done for the city in recent years.
Elmo's Aunt Sharpa pulled rikshaws. The heroes climbed in, and before long the heroes were rocketing through the city, taking the scenic route on the way to Aunt Sharpa's home. Along the way, a number of things were seen:
◊ A sexy half-elf was canoodling with a voidsoul genasi who looked back at her with uncaring eyes
◊ A tiny two-inch-tall samurai woman riding a robin flew up and offered to give Fayte a makeover for two silver. Fayte accepted, and before she knew it she looked very asian.
◊ They passed the vault of Io - a gold and white church that also had a secure vault. Elmo said it was the safest place to put your things.
◊ A shardmind was painting a mural of 3 three-headed dragons
They passed the teleport platform, where paragon heroes appeared and disappeared, mid-way through their respective adventures.
◊ They saw people throwing stones at a halfling, who was in the fetal position. They cursed him for being a cultist of the King of Terror. He called for help from his patron primordial... and his skull was crushed by a stone.
They passed the winter grove - a cursed park that always snowed. Two frostbearded dwarves stepped out of the park to warm up in the sun.
◊ An eladrin thief had stolen a sack from three priests of Dispater. Heron was ready to jump out to help her. Instead, he held out his staff. She grabbed on, and the priests of Dispater could only rue her as the rikshaw was going much too fast. Her name was Harmony, and she said she believed the church used donations for evil purposes. So she admitted to stealing from them whenever possible. The heroes were ok with that, and she rode with them.
◊ They headed into the Misty Maw of Colossal Yearning (aka the dock district). They entered into the Boat Town section. When the K'ynn K'tall created tidal waves years ago (in the Land of Eldritch Might campaign) this district was pummeled and nearly destroyed. When rebuilding, the people decided to just make homes out of the upside-down boats.
◊ The Immortal guardian of the Misty Maw appeared in the street ahead. He was Lord Saligia Foul, a seven-headed demon with red skin. Each head stood for a sin: Anger. Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy and gluttony. His glutton head was in control. Aunt Sharpa screeched the art to a halt. Some of the heroes fell out. Lord Foul's glutton head was in control. He wanted to have a few bites of Harmony.
Fayte decided to try and appeal to the other heads. She first suggested that maybe Lord Foul would like to do other things with Harmony. The lust head agreed. Then Fayte appealed to the Sloth head, pointing out how exhausting it would be to make sweet love to the eladrin. The sloth head agreed, and decided to go take a nap. Aunt Sharpa got the rikshaw out of there.
◊ On a rooftop (or boat-bottom), they spotted a wall monkey holding an amulet bearing the symbol of earth (a triangle in a circle). A woman looked out at a window at it, seemingly concerned. Jurod used mage hand to pull it from the monkey's sticky grasp. The monkey kept up with the rikshaw while running on rooftops. It tried to make a daring leap onto the rikshaw.... but fell into a chimney (rolled a one!).
The heroes arrived at Sharpa's, where they had a big meal with the panda family.Then Fayte and Heron wandered the Docks. As Heron looked out onto the ocean, it reminded him of the lake in his home of Mist Hollow.
He was reminded of a day when he was told by his mother that an automaton neighbor wished to speak with him. He decided to head out, pausing to lose another game of who-can-be-quiet-longer with Berm, his brother whose tongue had been torn out.
Heron headed down the street, stopping to say high to his Uncle Reed, who thought he was a giant. And he stopped to get a platinum fishhook out of Slow Jeremiah's eye. He even gave Slow Jeremiah the soup he'd been eating. A bunch of citizens were looking up at the black tower, home to the ruler of Mist Hollow. The ruler, Lord Pallidious, stood on the balcony looking down on them with his black eyes. The people waved. Pallidious glared at them. His wife, Beautiful Lenore
(one of the most beautiful women in town) was polishing his groin armor.
He entered the home of the automaton, named R98V-7. R987V-7 dismissed her and asked Heron if he was lucid. Heron didn't quite understand the question. R98V-7 said: "I have repeatedly voiced my concerns about Mist Hollow, but none of you remember. My Lenore is becoming more out of touch each day. I wish to hire you for a task - I shall give you 100 gold to swim all the way to the bottom of the lake. I believe something is down there tainting the water.
Heron agreed, and headed out to the lake. He dove in and made his way to the bottom. There he saw a strange slime covering a good portion of the base. In one spot, he saw little humanoid embryos growing. He touched one, and the ooze-thing came to life. A tendril lashed out at him, but he avoided it. Two more came at him, and he tied them in a knot. Then five rocketed towards him. He swam up and away, heading out of the lake and into the forest on the far side.
Some of the embryo-things had hatched. They were one foot tall, sparkled, and seemed jovial. Heron watched in hiding as five of them frolicked in a clearing. One picked up a squirrel and petted it. Heron popped out of the woods to greet them, but at the same time, so did Lord Pallidious and his spiderstone golem!
The golem snatched up four of the little creatures.He pointed a finger at the fifth, and disintegrated it. Heron objected. Pallidious cast a sleep spell on Heron.
Heron awoke in a prison cell. He was in the black tower. There was someone in the cell next to his. His name was Wan. He said he'd been in there ten years, but knew little else. He said he'd forgotten most things.
That night, the sliding vent in the door opened. Lord Pallidious looked in and said "Perhaps it is fate that we met. I wish to show you something." The door opened. Heron walked with Pallidious and the golem, past a room where squealing could be heard. They stepped out onto the balcony.
"I live alone here. As you can see, I am a hideous elf." Heron looked at Pallidious' long, bent nose and liver spots.
Heron said, "You're not that bad", bluffing.
Pallidious hissed, "That's a lie!"
"I'm sorry sir! Please don't put me back in the cell."
"Don't lie to me! I live alone here. No woman would marry me. I never bore a son..."
Heron interjected, "You should have learned to build a ship. Then you could have your pick of the best woman of the village."
"Any woman in the village would be repulsed by me. I lived a long, empty life. But I am not ready to die. I have experienced nothing! Look down at the lake, Heron. When the light shines just right..."
Heron saw the blob in the lake, pulsing. He saw at the shore, women were gathered. Tendrils emerged from the lake, translucent tubes that covered the women's bodies. One of them was Beautiful Lenore. The women began to spasm. Heron said "...I've never seen that before. Does that go on every night?"
Pallidious said "Almost every night. It takes something from them - something that lets it grow more of those faeries. And it does something to the lake. The water makes you forget. There was a time that githzerai appeared here on a planar dromond in search of the thing. But I got them to leave."
Heron said "I remember that..."
Pallidious continued, "I used the faeries to extend my lifespan. I am near immortal!"
"That sounds like it doesn't work out so well for the ladies in the village."
"And now I have you, Heron..."
Heron felt a cool breeze blow over him. He said, "I don't like where this is going."
"In time, perhaps you could call me - friend. Perhaps some time you could go out into the Elf Forest and find me a bride. Someone to share everlasting life with. And in exchange, perhaps you could live here forever as my foster son."
Heron said, "OK.. you lost me. I'll get you a bride if you'll stop letting the village get destroyed, or if you stop the ladies getting raped by that monster in the lake."
Pallidious was offended. "Rape?! She won't even remember! Does it really happen if she doesn't remember? I'm disappointed in you, Heron."
Heron said "I'm disappointed in you."
Pallidious was aghast. "What?"
"...You've been the lord of this village for how long? And.."
Pallidious had heard enough. "Golem! Grab him!", he shouted.
The golem lunged forth and tried to grab Heron, but Heron nimbly dodged to the side. Heron grabbed the wrist of Pallidious and twisted it behind him. Heron said "You've been the lord of this village for how long? And you haven't done anything but use it for your own benefit! That's not really very nice at all."
Pallidious writhed and shouted, "I am Lord Pallidious! You dare put your hands on me?! Golem! Destroy him!"
The golem grabbed Heron and pulled him away from Pallidious. Heron said "You should reconsider just how evil you are."
Pallidious was aghast. "Evil?! What's evil about wanting to live forever? What's evil about living an empty life? You could have been my son but now... now you're going to rot in there just like Wan did!"
The golem brought Heron back to his cell. Wan called to him and said "You have to get out of here! Go to the Kingdom of Valor! Find some way to kill the thing in the lake!" Suddenly, the cell door swung open. Wan was nowhere to be seen.
Heron crept up to the door he'd passed earlier and peering inside. The four faeries hung upside-down from the ceiling, skulls cut open. Their brain juice fell into pans, which collected in vials. Pallidious grabbed a vial and drank the juice. His liver spots faded, and his wrinkles smoothed out. He looked younger.
Heron tried not to wretch. He made his way out of the tower and into town. He snuck into his house and got his things. He decided to go warn R98V-7. But as he entered.. the spiderstone golem tore through the front door. R98V-7 grabbed a saber and told Heron to run. Heron did not want to leave the automaton. He cracked the golem in the face with his staff.
The golem spit webbing, pinning R98V-7 to the wall. Then it turned to Heron. R98V-7 told Heron to run. Heron promised to return for him. Then he sped out the back door and into the forest.
As he made his way through the forest, he remembered less and less. Something about a tower, and a fish, and getting to the kingdom of Valor. The more time passed, the less he could recall. Once in awhile, though, like when he was looking at the ocean in the city of Olwynn, he remembered... but then it faded again.
Heron and Fayte returned to Aunt Sharpa's. They traveled with Elmo to report to his boss, a soldier of the city of Olwynn.
She worked in a guard tower. Her name was Mystery Pandemonium. She wore little but an eagle helmet and a stern countenance. A falcon soared through an open window, landed on her shoulder, and cawed at her. She spoke to it, giving it orders to keep an eye on someone. Then it flew back out.
She greeted the heroes and Elmo. She took Elmo into a back room and spoke with him. Elmo came out a few minutes later, upset.
"She won't let me go to Nulth! I have to go back to Holmaren!", Elmo said. He explained that his brother Otis was in Nulth... in disguise.
Mystery Pandemonium asked for the heroes to meet with her. They entered the back room, which was full of pillows. In the center of the room was a huge hookah with many pipes. They smoked from the hookah and talked. Mystery said Elmo had put in a good word for them. She asked if they'd be interested in doing work for the city of Olwynn and the mighty King Thennrynnia.
The heroes said yes. Mystery told them she wasn't certain if they were ready. She asked them to enter a kind of adventuring competition called the Challenge of Champions, held in The Enchanted Forest (another park in the city). If the heroes scored well, she'd give them an assignment.
The heroes agreed. The following day, they entered the competition. The rooms and 'encounter areas' were part-real, part-illusion. The adventurers' guild of the city set it up, in part to promote their guild and to try to win new members. Eighteen teams had signed up. The heroes saw on the form they'd have to enter a group name. They called themselves "The Mithril Manticores".
They were not allowed to bring weapons, magic items, or armor. They could not cast spells. All equipment would be given to them. The heroes entered the first of their ten challenges.
1. CAFE SEAT: The heroes were in a chessboard room with blue and red tiles. The proctor handed them three strange rune cards. As he gave out instructions, Fayte and Heron figured out that the runes could be connected to form instructions on where not to step. The objective was to cross the room and read a run on a cafe seat. The heroes had done so in seconds.
2. TOW PESTS OR DWARF: This room involved crossing a raging river on a tow-line connected to a boat. There was an "injured dwarf" in one of the two chests. The key to open the chest was across the river. All the heroes had to cross within the fifteen minute mark. The rune on the cafe sea had indicated which had the dwarf in it. The heroes made quick work of this. It took a minute for each trip across the river, but they finished with plenty of time to spare.
3. RUNT GIRTH: The third room had a pair of pits that needed to be crossed. The heroes were given boards that were not quite long enough. The idea was to put one board longways, as the circular ledge around the pit allowed for the board to partially extend over the pit. Then the other could be placed longways to form a "t" that crossed the majority of the area.
The heroes first tried to stand on a board, making a walking plank for Heron. But it was quite jiggly. Heron tried to walk it and then jump the remaining gap, but he fell into the pit and was declared "dead". Carric followed, and fell as well. Jurod and Fayte tried to jump the 20 foot pit. Both failed. This was the first of the tests that the heroes failed.
4. NET DAN THERE: The objective was to throw a net on "dan" the goat using a broom, a net, a ring of mage hand, tenser's floating disc, and four bags of coins. Jurod was chained to a ledge and could not see down below where the goat was. The heroes figured out to use the ring to broom to position the ram right under the ledge. Then Jurod put the net on the disc. When the disc went over the side, it disappeared, and dropped the net on the goat. They figured it out quickly, and after one failed try they understood that they needed to tie the bags of coins to the corners of the net to make sure it fell straight down on the goat.
5. CAPES SHOUT: The heroes had to cross a long hallway without touching the floor. there were windows lining the walls. Capes hung on pegs, each with a magic mouth that would scream if the heroes touched the floor. The adventurers had a ladder and two long planks to work with.
Carric Cendoria set up a ladder and used it to get to a window. Then he put a board longways across to the window opposite. Heron climbed over as well and sat on the board. they worked out that they could cross the room like this. Fayte called out to them to throw the capes out the window as they went! This was allowed, and quite clever.
Each hero had to register as a "class" for the challenge of champions. Carric was the "rogue". In the challenges, each "class" had the opportunity to obtain the ring of their chosen class. Carric found the "rogue ring" in a pocket of one of the capes.
The capes were chucked as Carric and Heron made their way across. Then the heroes walked the length of the hallway, mission accomplished.
6. EON PETS: Carric and Heron figured this one out as the instructions were still being given. They flipped the boat over and swam under it. The boat protected them from the wolves. They crossed the room. Done.
7. THORN STEW: Carric, Fayte and Jurod were all tied up in a cage. The cage was suspended over a giant cauldron. Heron's job was to rescue his friends. If he did so, he'd be given the warrior's ring. He was handed a Rod of Lordly Might, a device that could turn into a sword, axe, polearm, or ladder!
The ladder was 50 feet long - 10 feet short of reaching the cage. Heron used it to climb onto the lip of the cauldron. Then he put the ladder against the cage, which swayed.. And he carefully climbed onto the top of the cage. He climbed inside and cut the bonds. Then the heroes climbed down the ladder onto the lip, steadying for each other. Then they used the ladder to climb down to the floor. Heron got his ring!
8. HORNETS AT EVENS: The center of the room was a mud pit (three feet deep). One chest had a ring that could cast "giant insect" (a spell which enlarged insects, and forced them to obey your commands). the other had four bees and the priest's ring. The objective was to get the ring and get out. The proctor said that the "even" chest had the giant insect ring in it. On the back of each chest was a formula that would tell you which chest was even and which chest was odd.
The heroes were given two poles. Fayte used them as stilts and crossed the mud. On the back of a chest was a long string of math, ending in "x 0 + 2". The "times zero" reduced all of those numbers to zero. So 0+2 meant the answer was 2, an even number. The other chest had a formula that indicated it was odd. Fayte got the giant insect rings, turned the four wasps into giant wasp servants,and grabbed her priest ring. Then the heroes mounted the giant wasps and flew out of the room!
9. SPACE & POST: Fayte was on the far side of the pit. The others were not. The objective was to get all the heroes, and a box, over to Fayte's side. They were given a metal pole with a bulb on one end. In the middle of the pit was a post with a swiveling ring in it. Fayte was also given slippers of spider climbing.
The heroes put the metal bar through the post. Fayte pulled herself up and spider-walked to the post. Then, squatting, she swiveled the bar, swinging her allies one at a time across the pit. No problem. time for the final challenge...
10. REUSE RAT BOWEL: This final room had 225 metal plates in the floor. Under one plate had "buried treasure". The heroes could use their rings together to unlock and open a plate. But they only got one chance. They were told that the names of each of their challenges would tell them which plate was correct.
Heron and Fayte felt that they could glean the location by going through the words and moving one step for each letter that indicated an "n", "s", "e" or "w". So in CAFE SEAT, they moved one square east, one square south, and then another square east.
They went over it twice. Eight minutes had passed of their eight minute time limit. Fayte felt uncertain. She looked over the words again.. and realized the words were anagrams.
CAFE SEAT = FACE EAST
TOW PESTS OR DWARF = TWO STEPS FORWARD
....and so on. The heroes quickly deciphered them all and then headed to the plate that the directions indicated. They opened their plate, and found a silver sprite trophy beneath. They were right!
The heroes had done well in the challenge, save for the pit. When it was time to announce the winners, the heroes were dismayed to hear that they'd tied for third place:
1. Blademasters - 370 points
2. Merry Elves - 365 points
3. The Dragonfighters & The Mithril Manticores - 370 points
They didn't win, but scored very high out of the 18 teams. When she found out, Mystery Pandemonium was convinced that the heroes were capable of helping the kingdom of Valor infiltrate and bring down the Temple of Elemental Evil once and for all.