Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sessions 80 to 83 (November 2019 - February 2020)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here

This entry marks the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of the campaign.

In-world dates: 16-18 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waning gibbous (full moon was on 15 Ilvin)

You are locked in battle with a beholder and several Drow, one of whom holds a knife to the throat of a hostage, Sister Garaele. Suddenly a commanding presence enters the chamber and a sultry, beguiling voice pierces the din. "Dahlings, this struggle is pointless and boring. Accept my offer and your friend's life shall be spared." The Drow priestess Eclavdra swans into view. She's clad in an impossibly form-fitting suit of mail that looks like it was painted on and sports a coiffure of such astonishing intricacy and volume that it could only have been achieved through magic.

You stop fighting and listen.

Eclavdra explains that nearby in this jade monolith lies a teleportation dais of the Earthmasters, akin to the ones you have seen in Telumar, Cherafir, and in the Underdark. This one, however, seems to be guarded by monsters of unknown origin. None of her scouts have returned, and a reconnaissance en force was similarly destroyed. She has no more patience. In return for your service in destroying the creatures and opening the passage to the dais, she will deliver Sister Garaele to you safe and sound.

Horrible guardians
Source: Numenera Discovery, p. 257.
Although it irks you to no end to serve the Drow, you see no better way to rescue Sister Garaele from the clutches of the vile Eclavdra. Following the latter's directions, you proceed through a series of horizontal and vertical shafts to reach the Earthmaster teleportation dais. The chamber seems empty... until suddenly more than a dozen large aberrations with jagged teeth and grasping tentacles swarm towards you with terrifying swiftness. You are put to the test, but in the end vanquish the things with sword and spell. Their blood is spattered all over the place. It smells, oddly, like bananas.

Your task complete, you activate the stone given you by Eclavdra. Her voice echoes in your heads, directing you to the place where you will find Garaele. (It seems the Drow priestess has been following your progress the entire time via a scrying spell.) You suspect betrayal, but Eclavdra is true to her word: you find Garaele unharmed, though somewhat traumatized by her captivity. The hostage in hand, you teleport to safety in Gil'Doren's house in the Sindarin (Elvish) city of Elshavel.

After some rest, you hold council with the Elf queen Aranath. Upon hearing your report, she expresses her fear that the Enemy may be attempting to secure control of Earthmaster sites, perhaps because of the strategic advantages offered by the teleportation daises that are generally found within. They have already demonstrated their ability to use these devices to move their armies around Hârn with incredible rapidity. One such site on the western marches of the Elf kingdom, a place known as Pesino, has recently fallen into their clutches: Elven rangers attempting to reach it have been slain or captured.

You consider investigating Pesino yourselves, but decide first to consult The Operator, the strange cyclopean giant you rescued from Telumar and left for safekeeping near the Deep Gnome enclave of Djebel. His knowledge of the teleportation daises is unrivaled.

The Operator
Using Transport via Plants, you swiftly reach the Sunless Sea in the Underdark where The Operator (who can breathe underwater) resides in the submerged ruins of a city. From Deep Gnome scouts, you learn that the Drow have seized control of the nearby teleportation dais and guard it with a force of troops, lizards, and spiders. Locating The Operator, you use Regeneration to heal its single eye, cruelly damaged by the vengeful Drow when they overran Telumar.

In response to your questions about the Earthmaster teleportation daises, The Operator explains that they cannot be "turned off" or disabled by any means known to him. However, he does know a procedure (a "spell") that will activate all the networked daises simultaneously, causing them to randomly link to other daises in rapid succession. Such an occurrence would render the daises useless for conventional, targeted teleportation; instead, anyone entering the dais portals would be transported to a random location. This spell would take days to cast, and to do so, it would be necessary to have access to at least one networked teleportation dais for the duration of the casting.

You ponder your options. On the plus side, this plan would no doubt cripple any plans the Enemy had of using the daises to concentrate armies of Giants and Gargun on Hârn. On the minus side, it would connect nearly a dozen locations on Hârn with an unknown number of sites scattered across the cosmos. Who knows what poisonous atmospheres, infinite voids, evil powers, demon-infested wastes, and infernal realms might thus gain access to the precious world you inhabit and desire only to protect?  Perhaps this solution will create perils even greater than the one from which you wish to escape.

You must gather information and learn more about the Drow forces guarding the nearby dais. You set out for the Deep Gnome enclave of Djebel, moving swiftly through the tunnels of the Underdark using Wind Walk.  Coming upon three robed figures stalking through the darkness and recognizing them as Mind Flayers, you decide to subject them to interrogation. Stopping to transition to corporeal form, you realize your error too late: the 60-second transformation will render you helpless while the Mind Flayers are free to act. Though Wind Walk gives you resistance to physical damage, you remain vulnerable to their psionic mind blasts.

And so things go badly for you. Most of you are stunned and can only watch with mounting horror as the pitiless illithids hungrily caress your re-materializing forms with their vile tentacles. Those among you fortunate enough to shrug off the psionic attacks mount a spirited defense against desperate odds. The worst comes when one of your foes manages to begin feeding on a brain. Things look dire indeed, but a reversal of fate (i.e., some successful saving throws) turns the tide of battle and you gain the upper hand, slaying your enemies with spectacular gore.

Reaching Djebel at last, you rest and consult with the headwoman Cyrkanosh. You decide that despite the risks involved, networking the daises is the best option. You will seize the Underdark dais from the Drow and hold it while The Operator casts the spell.  But it is only fair to inform your allies in advance. Using the communication crystals you distributed among your allies, you consult with Andronikos in Cherafir, who informs you that the situation there is dire: the city is besieged and an attack seems imminent.  You inform him of your plan and advise him to seal off the Earthmaster teleportation dais in the city so that nothing can pass through it. That done, you begin planning your assault on the Drow-held dais nearby.


Peter C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Takeda said...

It seems to work now. Whatever you did.

Takeda said...

The battle was truly epic ... and Illithid are really, really, really nasty/scary. I'm happy Gil'Doren was able to take that guy down ... using the Action Surge really paid off!