Post War Session - 26/4/2010

Latest game report is up. Prepare for creepy crawlies, boxes of wine, and a geometric, mucous horror...
*   *   *

16:51 – 17:00 – Vastam is a tired looking human in his late thirties. He wears heavy rimmed spectacles and well made but plain clothes. He greets the party wearily, and thanks them for coming. He then invites them into his home, and leads them from the ground floor (which is converted into tasting rooms, and a shop area), and into a series of increasingly deep cellars filled to the brim with dusty shelves packed with premium wines and rare vintages .

As he walks, Vastam explains what he wants the party to do. He is a wine expert, and he owns extensive cellars which hold some incredibly expensive and rare wines. Recently he has been asked to provide bottles for a Unified Order dinner being held out on one of the estates beyond Irin's walls by a mage named Calsivus Ghordai. Calsivus is also a wine expert, is impossibly wealthy, and he has requested some particularly valuable bottles of Theon's Bleu; a 2nd Age vintage thought to have been made in the ancient High Theocracy by a priest with a skill for brewing. Unfortunately, when Vastam went into his deepest cellars with an assistant to recover the bottles (valued at 3,500 gps a bottle), he discovered that the cellar had become infested with giant spiders. Worse, a whole section of the main cellars floor appeared to have collapsed, taking many reinforced crates of wine with it, and leaving a large, dank pit in the ground through which could be heard dripping, squeaking, and trickling.

Vastam asks the group to enter the cellars, to destroy the monstrous arachnids in there, and to recover at least sixty bottles (three crates) of his precious Theon's Bleu, and by the time he has got to this point, they are some six levels beneath street level in truly ancient cellars clearly converted from original construction. The air is heavy with dust and chill moisture, and as the group reach the entrance to the ravaged chamber, they see that it is swathed in huge, shimmering webs.

17:01 – 17:05 – Vastam wishes the party well, and informs them that should they succeed, he will give them a bottle of the valuable Theon's Bleu. Then, turning pale at sight of the webs, he flees.

The group discuss tactics.

Fire? No. Too much risk of the flames catching and causing an inferno that could weaken the floors above, or denature the other rare wines stored in the cellar. Acid? No. Lightning? No.

Schnecke gets sick of talking and charges the nearest swathe of webbing swinging his moaning axe...

...Which immediately becomes hopelessly tangled and is ripped free from his hands.

Worse, as the axe strikes, the group see the webbing jerk, as if something unseen is pulling on its strands.

The assassin tries to cut the webbing a moment later, his blade shifting through the gloom as a sharpened shadow, but he too finds it becomes hopelessly stuck to the sticky fibres.

17:05 – 17:07 – Emmiven decides enough is enough, and with a battle cry, he charges the webbing, ripping through the gummy film, and bursting into the cellar beyond.

The entire chamber is swathed thickly with sheets of sticky webbing. In the middle of the chamber is a noticeable dip where the floor has collapsed, though it is currently covered by the shimmering webs, and the warlord can make out five wine racks still standing, lost mostly within the webbing. Two racks have been knocked over, their valuable contents shattered, the stink of wine vinegar mixing foully with the strong smell of stagnant water. The air is thick with moisture, and condensation runs over the ancient stonework and beads on the webs.

However, Emmiven does not have long to take in his surroundings, for he spots four bloated black spiders squatting in the webs. Each is the size of a large dog, and is jet black in colour. Their six eyes gleam in the dim light of his companions weapons, and their fangs ooze droplets of venom. To the left of the them, mostly hidden by the walls of the chamber, is a tube of webbing, out of which protrude two huge, segmented, spidery legs. Emmiven cranes his head round and immediately wishes he hadn't, for he can see, within the web tube, a spider of nightmarish proportions. Although he cannot make out details, he can see that it is at least the size of a cart horse if not bigger, and that it bears bright green stripes along its hairy abdomen.

Emmiven fires an arrow and scores a hit against one of the smaller spiders causing it to skitter towards him in response. At this moment Varracuda enters the chamber, striking at the same creature, his blade burning a spitting wound in its body.

Soon the battle is in full swing. The sorceress scores a brutal blow against one spider with a blazing chromatic orb, before unleashing smaller orbs of elemental power on the survivors and withering them with waves of deadly power. She also summons a pool of shimmering, rainbow lights, which seem to distract the spiders when they are within it, allowing her allies to strike with greater surety and effect. The assassin drags the mobile smaller spiders into attack range and tears them from inside with his tenebrous curses, whilst the Barbarian, Warlord and Swordmage form a wall of merciless, flashing steel. And behind them all, Grigori uses his magic to knit envenomed wounds closed, to boost his allies attacks and to weaken the foes.

First to fall is the larger spider, for all see it as a major threat and concentrate on it. It shudders into death, though not before it lands a bite on the warlord – a bite he ignores; shrugging off the venom as if it does not exist. The smaller spiders prove to be the more difficult opponents, for they respond to harm by skittering away, and their venom causes sweeping weakness in the victim, lessening the effectiveness of their attacks. However, they are slowly but surely picked apart by sword, arrow and spell, and soon the group are admiring their handy work as the arachnids twitch and drip in death.

17:07 – 17:20 – The cellar is thoroughly searched, and it is discovered that there are no crates of Theon's Bleu to be found anywhere. The assassin manages – using his knowledge of both nature and alchemy – to extract the venom glands of the larger spider, and he collects a vial of its poison whilst the webbing is cleared from the hole in the floor.

Peering down the hole, the stench of stale water hits the party full force, and they can see a wide tunnel of ancient, slimed brickwork, half full of languid, brown waters. A sense of great age emanates from the crumbling walls below, and Varracuda realises that they are possibly looking into one of the archaic subterranean canals excavated by the Inner Circle – a continent wide criminal organisation that flourished during the closing decades of the Second Age – in order to allow them to ship illicit goods and slaves across Fey.

The group can see, immediately beneath the hole, a pile of rubble from the collapse, as well as several shattered wine cases (none seem to be those holding Theon's Bleu). Although the waters below are deep and barely flow, there is a slight current, and they realise that the crates have almost certainly drifted away.

17:20 – 17:22 – Down into the hole they go, and the party find themselves stood on a pile of shifting rubble, in the middle of the wide tunnel below. The ancient, crumbling walls are thickly slimed with quivering olive coloured ooze, and on entering the waters it is found to be chest high on most.

17:22 – 17:25 - Schnecke dives straight in, with the sawordmage and warlord following. Jaegar opts for a less conventional method of travel, and steps into nothingness, appearing instantly on a constructed semi-circular shelf of rotting stone, covered in masses of greenish mud and small clumps of dripping, slimy toadstools built into the side of the tunnel ahead (one of several built along the visible length). A little beyond the shelf is a great mud bank, caused it seems by a blockage in the tunnel slowing the sluggish waters enough for them to deposit their silt. The foul waters foam and gurgle past this obstruction and all kinds of debris - including several more wine crates - are lodged in its filthy flanks. Five of these crates hold Theron's Bleu.

Schnecke is first to arrive at the mud island, and whipping his soaked hair out of his eyes, he moves to free one of the crates from the mud and slime. With a grunt of effort he pulls it free with a loud sucking noise, and begins to slowly swim back to Grigori and Seren (who have stayed on the rubble island, the sorceress commanding her enchanted robes to fill the area with brilliant, spectral light). Varracuda moves to the other side of the island, but halts as the assassin, who has been peering into the gloom shouts a warning...

...He has seen what has slowed the waters down here...

...A huge, quivering, cuboid of semi-sentient slime, quietly absorbing the organic detritus brought to it on the currents...

...A Gelatinous Cube – a monster of tall tavern tales with a nasty reputation for its strong digestive chemicals, near invisibility, paralysing slime and penchant for consuming adventurer's whole.

It would be quite funny if not for those points.

17:25 – Varracuda gets too close to the slime, which responds by striking him with an arcing, swooping club of quivering, paralysing slime. He takes a good beating, but quickly shrugs off the painful stiffening in his limbs.

And then battle is joined.

17:26 – 17:32 – A short and brutal battle ensues. The slime manages to “swallow” both Jaeger and Varracuda at points in the battle, its corrosive juices burning them (though the swordmage's armour turns that harm into healing). Seren strikes the thing with potent magic, whilst Grigori conjures a zone of pale light which heals his allies.

The cube is quickly whittled down to a sticky mess, though a second problem reveals itself, for as the monster's bulk is reduced, so the flow of water increases. This in turn begins to wash the silt island away, and threatens to carry the Theon's Bleu into the dark riptides of filthy water that grow with strength with each passing moment a little way further along the tunnel.

In the end the heroes (including a slightly desperate Jaeger, who has fallen into the water and is also in danger of being sucked beneath by unseen currents to a watery, panicked death), tie themselves together, each wrapping their arms around a crate, before they are hauled slowly but surely to safety by the barbarian, priest and surprisingly strong sorceress.

All five crates of Theon Bleu are rescued – though one of these is immediately placed within Grigori's bag of holding – an illicit reward for the group.

17:55 – The group have returned to Vastam and presented him with the four crates of wine they have rescued. He is overjoyed that they have done so well (utterly unaware that 70,000 gold pieces worth of his wine sits hidden within the cleric's dimensional storage device), and good to his word gives them one of the dark blue glass bottles of wine. He informs them that he shall tell others of their sterling work, and before the group leaves, he shares a glass of wine with them.

19:30 – The group arrive back at the Staff of Wands.

20:30 – 01:30 (12/4/1472 – Mostly sunny, with strong winds and fleeting clouds): The group get good and drunk, and argue into the night over what to do next, and what to call themselves for the arena battles. They agree to look for more work the next day however, and eventually stumble off to their rooms...

...Except Schnecke.

01:30 – 02:30 – The barbarian continues drinking for a while, and then, utterly inebriated, he stumbles through the streets towards the Prayer of Banturn Inn...

04:00 – Schnecke returns to the Staff of Wands after getting lost, and retires for what is left of the night.

10:30 – The group meet up, hungover and tired, and after a short breakfast, enter the busy streets of Irin to find more work...