To Tread The Jeweled Thrones

9/29 Recap

The party was condemned by the Mad Sultan to be entombed with the deceased blood prince as his Death Slaves of Eternity, to follow him into the after-life and be his servants forever. The prince was foully poised while visiting the inn some of the various characters were staying at, while others were rounded up and condemned for being among the last to see him alive after he transacted some business with them (asking the blacksmith what he might know of a chunk of a strange green alloy in the prince's possession; asking the herbalist for herbs that would relax the body and induce sleep, asking the jeweler to fashion a silver mask in the shape of a skull, asking the astrologer about a strange chart of alien constellations).  The PCs had heard rumors of the crypts, including that the Mad Sultan's first wife died mysteriously sixty years ago and her two young children and the court physician were declared Death Slaves and buried with her, that the Gates of Paradise are hidden somewhere down there, promising immortality for all who enter, that a squad of royal guards had entered the crypts a week ago and never returned, that an ancient and haunted monastery of a death cult lies long abandoned somewhere below, and that Xothula, the last great god-king and ancient ancestor of the Mad Sultan was never a god-king at all, the true god-king was murdered and buried in the crypts. 

The prince's body, wrapped in a ceremonial shroud and placed on a bier, was lowered on a copper platform down into the depths of the catacombs, along with guards and the Death Slaves.  The guards moved the bier off into the corner and others herded the party off the platform, which swiftly rose back into the darkness. They had been lowered into the middle of a huge rotunda, with the peak of the ceiling over 50' up, that was lined with odd red tiles, from which stuck fist-sized glowing green rocks at random intervals providing a gloomy illumination. The party was in the middle of gathering up the various grave goods (including their own possessions as well as bread and wine), when they were attacked out of the darkness by a group of ragged figures in hooded cloaks with skull for faces; strangely the figures concentrated on snatching the edibles rather than hurting any of the newly arrived Death Slaves, and the party was able to fend them off, slaying one in the process.  At that point the attackers who were led by a giant of a man in a leather apron and executioner's hood, revealed they were also Death Slaves, and they had just been trying to snatch up all the provisions they could before the "Children of the Grave" showed up.

At this point a howling pack of grossly deformed child-sized humanoids surged out of the shadows and began tearing and biting at the various NPC Death Slaves who were standing around dithering.  A light flared down a hidden tunnel, and the fake ghouls retreated swiftly down the tunnel, with our "heroes" in close pursuit; at the end of the tunnel the slaves and the huge man, Babatunda, jockeyed an enormous marble table into position, sealing off the tunnel from the Children of the Grave.

The room they retreated into turned out to be a huge temple, with red tile, marble floor, giant pillars, dominated at one end by the statue of an enormous man made from some unknown green alloy, with its hands outstretched, palms empty in a gesture of peace; the head of the statue had been hacked off, leaving jagged edges.  

In the monastery the group found dozens of pale and sickly looking wretches, being tended to by an old man with a long white beard and blind in one (milky white) eye.  He called himself the physician and welcomed them to his flock, offering them stale water and dried sticks of meat, which was all they had to subsist on; when questioned he revealed that the food and water came as a result of his prayers to the gods.  When some of the party wanted to learn how to do that he told them he'd be happy to teach them if they took up the faith, but that would involve months or years of study… plus they needed to be literate, which none of them were.

Closer examination of the statue showed long stretches on the back of the statue similarly hacked, where the man's wings would have been (assuming it was some sort of angelic figure). The green alloy was harder than the steel of the jeweler's chisel, which couldn't so much as scratch it.

After interrogating the Physician further, poking around trying to follow Babatunda, and generally agitating his flock with questions they uncovered the rumor that he was the very same court physician who was the first of the modern Death Slaves, had actually murdered the sultan's wife, which is why he was condemned.  Babatunda had been with him that whole time.

The Physician offered to give them a map which might lead to an exit through the Crypt of the Faithful, that he had assembled from the ancient writings that he had available, but was probably dangerous and certainly more rigorous a journey than his flock, some of whom were too weak to even walk on their own, could possibly make.  Still, the group seemed hearty and if they wanted to chance it, they could have the map with his blessing.

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10/6 Recap

Taking the Physician up on his offer, they had some of the slaves move the marble table out of the way, and followed the tunnel back to the rotunda.  There they found an alcove where the bier of the Blood Prince rested, as well as the shrouds that had been wrapped around his body, but his body itself was missing.  Not pausing to examine anything further, they hurried to look at the other potential exits to the room.  To the West and East were bars with gates, the West was slightly open while the East was closed; beyond both were stairs going down, made of the same red tile as the rest of the place, with the weird glowing gem-stones.  The stairs were deeper and wider than would be comfortable for a human to use.  To the SouthWest was another alcove, without any bier.  To the North, the direction of the temple, were gigantic double-doors of bronze, with no handles or fixtures, but partially covered in smeared blood and filth.  Finally, to the South, the direction the map pointed, was the entrance to the Crypts of the Faithful.  On the lintel over the entrance to the Crypts was carved writing in a strange language none of them recognized.  One of the group tried to pry one of the glowing stones out of the while, but after nearly stabbing himself in a failed attempt when his knife slipped off the hard surface, succeeded in stabbing himself in the femoral artery and bled out before anybody could help him (the perils of fumbling when you have only one HP).

The group headed that way.  Unlike the rest of the complex, the Crypts of the Faithful are plain stone, showing age and cracks, and lacking any of the glowing gems so that it is pitch black throughout.  Set into the walls at regular intervals are alcoves with desiccated mummies, many of them clutching grave goods in their wizened fingers.  The group spent a bunch of time here, pawing through the goods and uncovering some treasures.  Unfortunately several of them started feeling unwell after doing this, and one of them, Poor John, found his vision going dim and shortly was blind.  Others began to get the shakes, and one's fingers started to turn green and smell bad.

Pressing on, the group lit a lantern and pushed southward in the maze of twisty little passages, all alike, doing their best to follow the scribbles on the map.  After an hour of this, including a pause to glom some more of the grave goods from the mummies that line the entire place, they came to the place clearly marked on the Physician's map.  It proved to be a room with no visible other exits.  While searching for secret doors, the floor gave way dropping most of them into a pit full to the brim with writhing white slimy fist-sized maggots.  Most of them managed to scramble up to safety, some helping each other, before the maggots acidic slime did any damage to them; others weren't so lucky. Eventually they all managed to win their way free, with no casualties (I think?)

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10/13 Recap
Death, Death & More Death!

After some futzing around with trying to figure out whether there was any safe way to poke at the grave worm pit any further, the party decided to use the map to backtrack to the entrance to the catacombs.  Along the way they spotted a spectral figure that was moving from alcove to alcove, gesturing above the dead, and they followed it until it vanished into a wall.  At this point they were overtaken by Russell's group, survivors who had run away from initial massacre by the Children of the Crypt, and after determining that the wall the specter had vanished into contained no secret door (this not being an episode of Scooby-Doo) they continued backtracking, emerging from the catacombs a scant ten minutes later and now that they were back in the area lit by the glowing green stones they extinguished their lantern (lantern is at 4 of 6 hours remaining).

They decided to explore the stairs down beyond the rusted gate at "D"…. the stairs were a bit longer and deeper than is comfortable for a human to use, though not so much as to require any special skill, and the scent of decay wafted up from below.  After 100 feet they came to the bottom of the stairs and a room containing a bas-relief of worshipers before a dais: some of the worshipers are presenting gifts, while others are sitting looking pensive. Whatever figure was seated on the dais has been eradicated by hammer and chisel hundreds or thousands of years ago.  Beyond this room there were huge double doors to the South, plated in silver but smeared with filth and blood (fresh enough that they could at least tell it was blood and not just an ancient stain).  From the darkness beyond the doors the stench was really strong, but beyond the opening to the south the room continued and they could see an area to the North, which half of them rushed to investigate, choosing to ignore the darkened room to the South.  

This led them to be separated into two groups when a horde of Children of the Crypt (hideous deformed child-sized creatures, some possessing additional mouths or limbs, some missing limbs entirely and wriggling on the ground, some with secondary heads growing out of random places on their bodies, or lamprey-like mouths or reptilian skin, etc.) burst out of the southern room, gaining surprise.  A pitched battle ensued, with many of the party falling before they finally disposed of the Children.
 

The Dead

(Not all from this session)
 

  • Wendy's Group

    • Moskogus (trapper)
    • Lind (rice farmer)
    • Shoshalen (astrologer)
  • Michael's Group

    • Jack (hunter) 
    • Sudis (wainwright)
    • Flint (animal trainer)
  • Russell's Group

    • Lou (ditch digger)
  • Lan's Group

    • Muggin (weaver)
  • JD's Group

    • Blane (mercenary)
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10/27 Recap
Into the God Crypt

Having defeated the Children of the Crypt in pitched battle, the survivors pushed open the iron doors to the Hall of Heroes, and being a bit freaked out by the giant skeletal warriors, decided to backtrack a little and look around the room beyond the silver doors the Children had issued from.

There they found another couple of survivors (Cody Mazza's characters) and the bound and gagged captain of the guard troop that had gone missing in the Crypts the week before (Rumor 5). After some unsuccessful attempts to interrogate him in situ, they relented and freed him, leading him out of the room and piecing together his story. (He and his troop were sent by the Blood Prince to find the Gates of Heaven but were overwhelmed and captured by the Children before they did. The party also recovered 3 cuirasses, 3 short swords, and the royal writ from the Blood Prince to enter the crypts, as well as a velvet bag with 50 g.p. in ancient golden coins (which is a big treasure since the setting is on a silver standard).

They decided to go back to the Hall of Heroes instead of push further into the creepy children's room and investigate the sounds of singing coming from deeper within.

At the Hall of Heroes they discovered the tracks leading from the glowing golden doors at the far end, and correctly discerned that they were made by somebody walking backwards to the golden doors from the iron doors.  They also noticed the pits in the floor and determined they were really really deep by throwing a piece of bone or something in and listening for the sound of it hitting bottom, which never came.  They didn't actually draw any deductions from the backwards footprints, and simply tried to cross the room.  They lost the guard captain and one of the survivors who succumbed to the dreadful hallucinations of the giant skeletal warriors coming to life and fell into one of the pits while fleeing.  Two others who fled back to the iron doors made it safely, and were eventually coaxed to join the rest at the golden doors, making it this time.1

Pushing through the golden doors, they came to the Hall of Kings, where they found twelve empty thrones upon obsidian mini-ziggurats, and one occupied by the skeletal weeping form of Xothula, the rebellious adept of Mog'Malu.  They took his crown and his star-steel dagger.  Loot! They also found enormous wings, nailed to the wall and still dripping blood, that they correctly deduced must have belonged to the figure depicted in the defaced statue back in the temple with the stumps where wings would be.  Finally they discovered the shimmering triangular gate at the back of the hall.  After a bit of futzing around they discovered that you could pass through the shimmering field (to who knows where) if  you touched your hand covered with the blood dripping from the wings to the field.2  They all elected to do this, since it wasn't a green devils face it had to be safe, right?

The found themselves transported to a platform floating in space, surrounded by stars of alien constellations, connected by a rickety looking bridge of crumbling stone to a distant spot of light. As soon as they set foot on the bridge, a gigantic writhing worm of inky darkness and  cosmic filth appeared and swiftly approached the bridge, reaching to grasp them in its tentacles.  They ran across as fast as they could mostly evading its grip… the two who were grabbed burned their Luck to escape its grasp before too much damage had been done and scrambled to safety on the platform on the far end.  As soon as they reached it, the creature vanished and they found themselves facing their final challenge.

Lying on a crystal altar was a pale green humanoid, over fifteen feet tall, with a demonic-appearing ram's head and horns with a burning symbol on its forehead and bloody stumps where his wings had been.  Quivering in terror at the foot of the altar was the Blood Prince, who the party was surprised to find alive since they had never pursued a single clue as to his nefarious plan that they had become embroiled in.  Fortunately, Mog'Malu was feeling chatty, and dumped a bunch of exposition on them filling in everything they didn't know about the history of the crypts, the cult, Xothula and Mog'Malu's fall…which was everything since they never came across any of the clues scattered throughout.  Finally Mog'Malu begged them to kill him and release him from his fleshly prison, which they did with the StarSteel dagger they had looted from Xothula, and after a bunch of what would have been expensive CGI they found themselves safe and sound on the beach, many miles from the crypts and the vile city of Hazruun.

fn1. Not the way this room is supposed to play out, but I simplified it.

fn2. Another place I simplified the solution.

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11/3 Recap
To Sindanore!

Having escaped the crypts (and become 1st level), they hailed a passing ship that happened to be on its way to Sindanore, the former plague colony on the shores of the island of Kalmatta. After hearing tales from the sailors about the possibility of fabulous wealth from lost tombs on the island, they decided to stay there as the ship sailed on (after first arranging with the captain to stop at the island and check on them when next they were passing by).  They  equipped themselves and set out to explore the jungle, not really believing in the islanders tales of gigantic beasts.  After a few days exploring, they came across the remains of an adventurer who had fallen to his death on a treacherous mountain pass; in his backpack they found a well-wrapped and preserved journal of his searches for the fabled tombs of the island, giving them their first concrete clue to the whereabouts of some treasure.  They encountered a herd of goats, fleeing from a saber-toothed tiger and managed to dispatch the tiger, while one of them (Tonguud the Warrior), was injured by an ornery goat.

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