Sundry information, thoughts and links to sort us out

Saturday, May 31, 2008

This Is Getting Complicated...I Like It!

Bruce, Katy, and Cathy, in response to an off-hand comment Ken made: Don't be goofy? We're never goofy! - Yeah, we're usually Pluto, sometimes Donald Duck. - I'm always Minnie Mouse.
Ken and Cathy, about an attack: I use the full-round action to coup his gras. - Cup of grease, that's all it is.
Ken, about his laptop acting up: That's it, the keyboard is full of Fairy Dust. No wonder it doesn't work!
Ken, asking for a clarification on Bruce's description of a room: What did you say? The yogurt eternal?
Bruce, when Katy took out the adversary in one barrage of arrows: Poor guy! We even had the appropriate miniature!
Ken, singing about something Katy said: Quiver, quiver, our archer quiver!
Katy and Ken, about the Male Medusa the party faced: What would that be? Meduso? - Medusod!
Cathy, commenting on gameplay: Cool, this is getting complicated. I like it!
Bruce and Ken, discussing party members' alignments: Cayce's good. - Cayce's great!
Bruce and Cathy, about the painting in the room and its potential effect on Hagbarde because of his phobia: Well, it's only a picture of a beautiful woman. - That's true. It will only be a picture of a penalty.
Cathy, coming up a a verse for Maeve after she took out an adversary: Maeve the brave, Maeve the terrible, Maeve the archer maid of....three's the name of the town? Waterdeep! Maeve the archer maid of Waterdeep.

After looking about, the adventurers discovered two sets of stairs, one leading up and, in the small room beyond, one leading down. They decided to go down. The circular room had all the trappings of a torture chamber: a rack, an iron maiden, and numerous smaller implements of pain. Stretched out on a table, hands and feet bound in iron manacles, was a body that had been stripped of its skin. It looked a lot like the Undead creatures in the Drow outpost. There was a trapdoor in the center of the floor.

"Why are you chained up like that?" Hagbarde asked the captive. As if in reply, the Quth-Maren spit blood at the cleric, hitting him and his companions. Fnord drew his Undead Bane sword and attacked the prisoner, hitting and performing the coup de gras.

They turned their attention to the trap door in the floor. Maeve checked it for traps and found none. Hagbarde opened it. The odor of a charnel house filled the air. A rusty iron ladder descended down into the floor, leading to a small, bare circular room. A furry hide of indeterminate nature was piled to one side of the ladder. An 8-foot tall creature with inky black skin and a knotted mane of yellowish-white hair stood in the room. Her face had a bestial cast and a mouth full of viciously sharp teeth. She had four arms -- two tipped with powerful claws, the other two more normal hands which she was already using to cast a spell.

The Draegloth cast Blade Barrier at the opening of the trap door, everyone Dodged it successfully, but Hagbarde was caught outside of it; Hagbarde's spell resistance protected him and he stepped through the barrier, and then Dispelled it; Maeve Greater Slaying Outsider Evil and took out the Draegloth with her third attack.

A Drow hand was nailed to the wall with a large spike. The hand wore a silver ring on each of its fingers. A quick study of the hand showed it to be an item of religious significance as a symbol of Kiaransalee. After gathering the things in the room, Fnord pocketing the hand everyone else disliked, the group determined that this was the lowest level of the basement and there was nowhere else to go but up. The cleric sprinkled Holy Water and prayed over the room before they headed back up the ladder to the room above. Then they climbed the stairs back to the main floor and returned to the Room of Pillars where there was a staircase heading up. They climbed the stairs.

A short wall separated the stairs down from the rest of the room. A single door to the left was just barely visible around the edge of the wall. Hagbarde's and Fnord's True Sight showed them that there was an ethereal room within this room, but all he could see were its exterior walls. The cleric went into the room and described what he saw to his friends.

The room was somewhat disorienting. The ceiling was smooth and level, but the floor sloped sharply up from a point at the bottom until it met the ceiling only 8 feet away. No gravity pulled down to the floor so it was easy to walk -- either up the slope or simply through the air -- to a hole in the ceiling which lead to a room above. On the wall opposite the hole in the ceiling an image of an archway was carved into the stone, but a solid wall filled the arch. The air was foggy but not damp, though the stone of the room seemed clear and solid enough.

Maeve walked around the half wall and heard a sound off to her right, a sort of hissing. Looking around, she saw a male Medusa, fortunately, she Saved against turning to stone. "Guys, there's a male Medusa over here!"

Fnord used Synesthete to see without using his eyes, thus protecting himself from Gaze Attacks; Cayce followed suit; Male Medusa attacked Maeve, shooting off a Meteor Storm at her, which she reflected back at him, everyone Saved against the damage and the Medusa was immune to fire damage, but he still took blunt damage from the meteor impact; Hagbarde stepped around the wall, Saved versus the Medusa's gaze, and cast Implosion, but Male Medusa Saved; Maeve activated Synesthete.

Fnord, as an Adamantine Golem, ran into the room and charged the Male Medusa - provoking an attack of opportunity, which hit for 6 plus 5 points to any creature with the Shape Changing subtype, but Fnord Saved versus turning to his natural form - meanwhile, Fnord smacked the Male Medusa for 92 points; Cayce entered the room and attacked, hitting for 40; Male Medusa retaliated against Fnord, but missed with all his attacks, then his familiar - a tiny viper - jumped out of his pocket and attacked, but missed; Hagbarde cast Holy Word, succeeding in blinding and deafening Male Medusa; Maeve made her arrows Slay Aberrations and took out the Male Medusa, with her remaining arrows she killed the viper familiar.

The party searched the room. They found a portal which looked like an open archway filled with ghostly, swirling mist. While they suspected that this was the entry into the ethereal portion of the tower, Hagbarde and Fnord remembered that the portal on the other side was covered in stone. Hesitation ensued as the adventurers worried about getting stuck on the other side. They decided to at least check out the rest of this level before revisiting the issue of crossing planes.

Cayce went to the door perpendicular to the half wall and checked it for traps. He found none, so Hagbarde opened it. A thick fur on the floor of the room served as a bed. An assortment of small stone sculptures stood around the room in very natural poses -- apparently a Medusa's idea of art. Another door lead out to the south.

Returning to the main room, he checked the other door. When he found no traps, Hagbarde again opened it. Three chairs surrounded a small table on one side of the long room. On the other side was a small kitchen -- including cabinets and a countertop -- but no cookfire.

They headed back to the main room and ascended the stairs. A short landing marked the next floor of the tower. The stairs continued up and a door lead off to the left. Cayce checked the door, found a trap, and tripped it. Darts flew through the room. Maeve dodged, but still took 11 points. Fnord was missed by all the darts. Hagbarde was hit twice, taking 8 points. Cayce was hit twice, taking 8 points also. Cayce returned his attention to the door and picked the lock. The cleric opened it.

The warm room was full of pleasant smells, comfortable furnishings, and attractive decorations. A small bed was in the far corner, a finely-crafted wooden dresser stood beside it. A full-length silver mirror in an ornate frame stood on the other side of the bed. A bronze brazier full of smoldering coals and delicately scented incense was in the center of the room, next too a low divan. Opposite the divan was a large wooden box -- it was open. Two panels folded out from the lid forming a triptych. The center pane depicted a cruelly beautiful Drow woman seated on a throne of bones, her face painted to resemble a skull, each of her fingers wearing a ring. The left panel showed another Drow woman, standing facing the center panel. This woman wore a simple black robe and held a skull in her hands. The right panel showed the ghostly form of a heavily-armored warrior -- her armor forged to resemble demonic features -- she held a serrated greatsword in her hands and stood upon a pile of bodies. Below this three-part scene, the box was arrayed as an altar with candles and other devotional objects. The supplicant at that altar turned at the sound of the party's approach, her weapons at the ready.

Cayce attacked and took out the adversary.

They searched the room and then headed back out and up the stairs. They reached another small landing with stairs continuing in both directions and a door on one side. Cayce checked the door - it was not locked and did not appear to be trapped. Hagbarde tried the door. Opening it to reveal a wall rising about halfway to the ceiling. A mosaic in the floor depicted a skull, its mouth open wide to hold a small, black circle comprised of one single circular tile fully 5 feet in diameter. The eyes of the skull glowed blue.

Cayce stepped into the room and attacked, hitting for 35; Fnord backed away into the hallway, muttering something about tile under his breath; Kumar stood menacingly on the tile skull mosaic, taunting the adventurers; Maeve made her arrows Greater Slay Undead and took out Kumar.

Hagbarde studied the skull mosaic. Cayce and Maeve searched the rest of the room, avoiding the mosaic. They wanted to search the body of their adversary, but were afraid to step on the evilly glowing tile skull.

"Try using psionic telekinesis," called Fnord from the hallway, "then you can get the body off the damn tile!"

"OK," replied Maeve, using her psi-crystal and moving the body to a clear space on the floor.

Meanwhile, the cleric attempted to dispel the magic on the skull mosaic. His efforts were not successful. "I don't have any more spells to use," he said when he was done. Rejoining Fnord, the group headed further up the stairs. They passed through a few empty rooms and eventually reached a tiny room at the very top of the tower's spiral. Floating in the center of the room was a ghostly insubstantial Drow woman with dusky gray skin, gray-white hair, and amber eyes. Her face was contorted into a mask of grief as she moaned, wailed, and sobbed continually.

Cayce held his action; Maeve made her arrows Ghost Touch, and hit with all 5 rounds; Hagbarde cast Greater Turn Undead, and destroyed it. There was nothing else in the room except for a portal, which looked like it should be a doorway, but was filled with stone. The party realized that they had reached the top of the tower. They quickly discussed their options and realized that they would have to go back down to the one portal they knew to be active.

After retracing their steps to that room, the group easily maneuvered up and through the hole. The small room had three solid walls, floor, and ceiling, but the fourth wall seemed hazy. It blocked vision, but they couldn't be sure whether it would block movement. Looking through the hazy wall, they saw the hole accessing the next room. They continued through it into a long, narrow room with a hole in the floor leading down and another in the ceiling just a few feet away. Going up, the entered a room wherein the right half of the wall was open; there were also the expected holes for egress. Proceeding, they reached a small landing with two more holes, and a door on one side.

Cayce checked the door. It was trapped, he disabled it and picked the lock. Hagbarde opened the door. Beyond it was a room seemly created entirely of bone lattice work. A bone throne stood in one corner of the room. A motionless Drow woman, her face painted like the skull she held, sat upon the throne. It was a permanent image created by a Lich inhabiting the image, which both Fnord and Hagbarde could easily see.

Cayce attacked, hitting with all six rounds, but not appearing to do damage; Maeve, alerted by Hagbarde to the Lich, made her arrows Greater Slay Undead and took him out.

They returned to the outer chamber and floated up through the hole in the ceiling. Opposite the hole in the floor, through which they'd entered, was a straight wall with a door in its center. Another wall curved alongside the hole, and a third wall joined the two, but seemed only half substantial. Where it met the curving wall the shorter wall was blurry, as if made of smoke. No hole leading upward was visible.

Guard-1 attacked Hagbarde, hitting three times with his spear for a total of 33 points and 8 negative energy levels; Guard-2 attacked Maeve, hitting for a total of 26 points and 11 negative levels; Fnord began casting Psionic Restoration on Hagbarde; Maeve stuffed several magical arrows into her quiver to recharge it, then attacked Guard-2.

Cayce attacked Guard-2, hitting with 5 of his 6 attacks; Hagbarde attacked Guard-2 with his Thundering Mace, hitting once for 7 points; Guard-1 continued his combat with Hagbarde, hitting twice for a total of 22 points and 9 negative levels; Guard-2 continued his combat with Maeve, but missed with all three rounds; Fnord continued casting his spell; Maeve took out Guard-2 with three rounds, and turned her remaining two attacks on Guard-1.

Cayce attacked Guard-1, hitting with 5 of his 6 attacks, once critically; Hagbarde cast a Maximized Flamestrike at Guard-1, but the guard's spell resistance protected him; Guard-1 continued his combat with Hagbarde, hitting for 14 points of damage and 6 negative levels, killing the cleric, then turned his attention to Maeve, hitting once for 14 points and 3 negative levels; Fnord stopped casting his spell and turned his sword on Guard-1, hitting once for 16, knocking Guard-1 to the floor, and then struck him again for a 14 point coup de gras.

Fnord attempted to call the Tower, but was unable to do so. Instead he used his Amulet of the Planes to transport the party out of the ethereal plane. Somehow, they wound up in the Grey Wastes of Hades, Pluton specifically. "Well, I think I should try that again," said Fnord, when he realized they had not ended up in the right place.

This time they ended up somewhere on the material plane, but with no idea exactly where. Using Psionic Know Direction/Location, the War Shifter attempted to figure out where they were. They were in Thay, in Eltabbar. Using Greater Teleport, he then took the party to Manifest.

Once there, they immediately approached the nearest temple. Again, Hagbarde's Magister status got them immediate access and the priests went to work. Maeve, Fnord, and Cayce gladly contributed 500gp to the temple in return for their service. Maeve also took the opportunity to ask one of the priests for a Restoration for herself and contributed and additional 250gp to the temple. Afterwards, they returned to Fnord's Tower to rest.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Vacation Stories, pt. 3

On Sunday we drove up to Ann Arbor to see Mom Stahl and Larry. We met them for brunch at IHOP, which was packed but worth the (shorter than expected!) wait. After a delicious meal, we caravaned over to Saline to see some of Larry's photography - which was part of an art auction and doing well. We then went to Larry's house, dropped off our car, and headed back out, this time to go to the Clinton Flea Market. I bought a really cool wooden rose for my collection of "fake" roses (really, I have a vase full). Next we went for a drive in the country and saw: the barn featured in one of Larry's displayed photos, a farm with goats and sheep and llamas, another farm with miniature horses, and finally a farm with camels. Boy does Michigan have diverse livestock!

We wrapped up our afternoon by visiting at Larry's house for a while. I helped Mom make the banner for the ESL department at her school - she does one every year, all the kids sign it and then it hangs in the school - Larry had printed out some clip art to go with the theme and Mom and I positioned and ironed it on (I did the ironing). I got to open my birthday present (cool Pooh pajamas!) and also gave Mom some of the pictures from the Loebrich Family Photo Shoot. Larry had prepared a fabulous pork roast and veggies in his slow cooker, so we had a delicious dinner before getting back on the road.

The drive to Kalamazoo from Clinton is pretty easy (thanks for the warning about the jog in the road in Manchester, Larry!) and we made it to Cyndee's house in good time. We had a nice visit with her and Paul, and their children, Brandon and Olivia. It was amazing how much they'd grown in the last two years! We spent the night there (thanks again for letting us use your room, Brandon!). Cyndee had also taken Monday off work so, once the kids were off to school, we headed in to town. We stopped at the mandatory places - Meijer's and Sweetwater's! Bruce and I splurged and got a dozen donuts at Sweetwater's, oh the yumminess of a traditional chocolate cake donut with glaze and a good old fashioned French cruller!

Then it was on to Kalamazoo College campus. The renovations to Hicks Center are amazing and I can't wait to see it when it's completely done. We did cause some consternation with the lunch lady as we poked in to see how Old Welles Hall has been retrofitted into the cafeteria, but once we explained that we were only alumni checking things out all was well. Then it was off to the bookstore for souvenirs before Cyndee headed home to take advantage of her day off.

We had arranged to meet up with my two student externs slated for this summer. So we met Paul in the coffee shop in Upjohn Library. We had a great chat before he had to go to his next class. We look forward to hosting his externship in September.

Then we ran down to Burger King for lunch. We came back up to campus, found a place to park, and listened to a bit of the College Band Concert on the steps of Fine Arts. I went into the library to use the bathroom and then stopped in the video studio to say hi to one of my former teachers, Dhera, who kindly took time out of her taping session and helped me track down one of my former externs, Marlene. When I came back outside, Bruce had found our most recent extern, Kelly, who was also listening to the concert! We had a nice visit with her during the rest of the show.

Cute K College story: I have been eager to meet Kalamazoo College's new president, Dr. Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, for many reasons, but this is the first time I've been to campus in two years so I really haven't had a chance. Well, she was at the concert! I had heard that she was making an effort to be involved in campus life. I think it was Kelly who told me a story of being greeted by President Wilson-Oyelaran, by name, while crossing the quad. When the concert was over, we were still standing in the middle of the sidewalk talking with Kelly and Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran walked by, looked right at us, and said, "Hi, everybody, how are you?" So I at least got to say "hi," even though I haven't yet had the time to introduce myself as an alumna.

Suddenly we realized it was time for the meeting we had arranged with Kristaps, my other extern for this summer. So we dashed across the street to Dewing. He had just finished his classes for the day and we had a nice chat with him before parting ways so he could go to the externship orientation session. We look forward to hosting his externship this July.

We then went back over to the library where we had arranged to meet Marlene. We had a great visit with her including getting to see pictures from her wedding last fall.

After a lovely day, we got on the road and headed back to Toledo. We wrapped up Monday by taking Dad and Cindy out for dinner at their favorite area Mexican place. A good time was had by all.

Tuesday we stopped by Aunt Maggie's to look at the dresser and nightstand that go with our bedstead. We had a nice, although brief, visit as we talked about ways to reunite the three pieces of furniture. Then we met Mom Loebrich for lunch before heading down to Columbus. We spent a relaxing evening playing Wii with Debbe, Duncan, and Derek before calling it a night.

Wednesday we got on the road to NC. We drove at a leisurely pace, stopping for snacks, gas and breaks. We had some bouts of rain, but for the most part the weather held. Of course we stopped at Tamarack in West Virginia and had an enjoyable rest walking about looking at the booths before getting back in the car.

It was a delightful vacation. We really enjoyed the time with loved ones.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vacation Stories, pt. 2

Our Midwestern trip continued in Toledo. On Saturday morning we got up and drove over to get Maria. The three of us headed to meet up with the Loebrichs and the McEwens for the Family Photo Shoot. It had been 2 years since we last sat for a group portrait!

Mom and Debbe came up with the idea of putting the family groups in matching colored shirts so Bruce, Katy and Maria wore green, Debbe, Duncan and Derek wore blue, and Mom and Dad wore purple. The photographers loved it because they could easily tell who went with whom! And we did a lot of poses: families, cousins, grandparents with grandkids, the whole clan, and a lot more. All the more impressive considering the portrait studio was being expanded, construction debris abounded, and there were a lot of other customers doing the same thing on a Saturday morning! After the shoot was finished, the boys went to order the pizza for lunch while the girls stayed behind and picked the poses for our picture package. Eventually the girls joined up with the boys, lunch was had, and we returned to pick up our prints. Finally, the morning (now afternoon) wrapped up by our sitting down at the Loebrichs' and sorting out who got copies of which pictures.

Cute Maria story: when we picked her up, Maria presented me with a pink teddy bear that says "Step Mom" on her tummy and has a paw print on one foot and a heart print on the other. She told me she liked that one better than the "Mom" design they had, and wished me a Happy Mother's Day. This is the first time I have ever gotten a real Mother's Day present and I was (and still am) tickled pink.

Bruce and I dropped Maria off after the photo session, etc., and returned to Dad and Cindy's. My brother, Joe, and my sister-in-law, Traci, were already at the house helping prepare for the cook-out that evening. My sister, Suzanne, and her boyfriend, Tim, arrived a little while later, and then Aunt Maggie rounded out the gathering. We had a great time eating snacks and drinking wine on the sun porch while Dad started the grill.

Another family photo session ensued as Joe and I set up our tripods and then rotated out about a zillion cameras using the self-timer functions to get some group shots. Then Dad cooked dinner while everyone else ate and drank some more. We had an "indoor picnic" dinner and then the evening was capped off by a yummy cake in celebration of my 40th and Maggie's 60th birthdays. We joked that "together we're 100 and looking good!" (And we are!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vacation Stories, pt. 1

We recently spent a week in the Midwest visiting family and friends. Our original plans were to fly up, but Skybus Airlines went out of business a month before our trip, so we decided to drive instead. We had our car checked out (had to take it in for the State Inspection anyway) and got the thumbs-up from our mechanics to go ahead and make the drive home. It was actually nice to be able to drive our own car -- gave us plenty of room to pack whatever we wanted!

We left Durham after work last Wednesday and drove until we got tired -- about 11pm. We ended up at a little hotel in Beckley, WV (home of Tamarack). It was fine for what we needed and we had a decent night's sleep before getting up and getting on the road Thursday at 8am. The weather was nice and we had an easy drive, arriving in Columbus at 12:30pm. Debbe had lunch waiting, after which we headed over to COSI where Derek showed Uncle Bruce a lot of his favorite stuff.

Cute Nephew Story: We spent Thursday night with Debbe, Duncan, and Derek. As we were getting ready for bed, Bruce had gone downstairs as I was putting an extra blanket on the bed in the guest room. Derek came in and we had the following exchange.
Derek: I'll help you.
Katy: I'm almost done.
Derek: No, you're not.
Katy: What else do I need?
Derek: You need Uncle Bruce!

On Friday we drove up to Toledo. We were caravaning with Debbe, Duncan, and Derek. We stopped at several fun stores and just generally made a leisurely drive of it -- we didn't have to meet Mom and Dad Loebrich until 5-ish, after all. Unfortunately, Maria was not able to join us for our family dinner, but the rest of us had a nice time at the Cracker Barrel in Maumee. After dinner, we went back to the Loebrichs for a while. Dad and Derek played in the yard while the rest of us visited. Around nine (ah the western edge of the time zone, how we've missed the evenings getting dark when they're "supposed to"), Bruce and I headed up to Dad Stahl's where we would be spending the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nickel Metal Iron Meteorite Dice Available

Remember the Meteorite d6 our friend Ken Coar made us last year? Well he's made a few more and this time you can actually buy them!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things I Know

Today the sky is grey
and it reminds me of home.
Even after all these years
I still expect things to be the way I've always known.
Crocuses are supposed to peek their way
through frosty, frozen ground in March
and that ruddy yellow sunlight should slant
across the sky, beautifully, around five.
July is meant to be hot,
but October should be full of that crisp, cool air.
Christmas Eve means a chilly night
with mild snow.
New Year's dawns clear and cold.
A different climate is like an expensive wool sweater --
gorgeous, but uncomfortable.
I know t-shirts and jeans.

-- kml

I wrote this poem yesterday. It's obviously about the differences between living in North Carolina and in the Midwest where I grew up. It's really odd how the climate of my childhood is still so deeply ingrained in me. I've lived here 10 years and it still bugs me that sunset is earlier than I think it should be. We have flowers (daffodils, even!) in February here. I am still not used to that. Sometimes there are days, like yesterday, when the comparison just becomes really striking.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

At the Tone the Time Will Be...Time to Die!

Katy and Ken, as Katy scribed: So we're in U2 now right? - Bon Jovi!
Ken, as the party entered the Undying Temple: At the tone the time will be: Time to wait, time to Un-die.
Katy and Ken, from a conversation about the party's NPC: So, if we ever let Bruce actually play we'll be in trouble because his characters will stomp all over us.... - We could just do what we did last time and let him die!
Katy and Ken: Oh, Cayce's going to do something, wait a minute, let me minimize CNN. - Fox has been trying to do that for years.
Katy and Ken, about the miniatures on the table: Oh, I was scared, I thought Bruce was putting something big and sneaky behind us. - He wouldn't do that!
Katy and Cathy, about one of their adversaries: That Ghost Guy is a gift shop in West Virginia. - Taharock? No, that's Tamarack! - Yeah. - There are signs leading up to him every two miles. - Beware of Taharock!
Katy and Ken: Hagbarde, Hagbarde, he's our man! - Get his butt in here and shake your can!

Back in town, the group headed to Dras' Wondrous Devices where they sorted through their loot. Hagbarde kept the gems (for the temple) and the Staff of Frost. Fnord kept the +3 Heavy Mace of Disruption. Maeve kept the Crystal of Screening. The rest they sold. Hagbarde also bought some Holy Water to consecrate the evil sanctuary they had last seen in Castle Maerimydra. Then they returned to Fnord's Tower wherein Hagbarde took care of much needed healing before everyone settled in to rest.

In the morning, Hagbarde re-cast Spell Immunity on Maeve (Forbiddence, Darkness, Charm, Anti-Magic Cone) and on Fnord (Finger of Death, Darkness, Charm, Anti-Magic Cone). Then the cleric teleported the party back to the castle, using his last use of his Silver Fire Aura as the marker to guide his teleportation. They arrived back in the garish temple and Hagbarde immediately began applying Holy Water on nearly every surface, continuing into the antechamber. Although the creatures and items sizzled as the Holy Water struck them, nothing else happened to them. The rooms were otherwise empty.

They returned to the hallway leading out of this uncomfortable suite, there was still purple flame filling the path. Fnord, as a Golem, was immune and walked through the hall. Hagbarde used Dimension Door to transport the rest of the party. They all arrived safely at the far end and faced a closed, black marble door. Cayce listened at it, but heard nothing. He found no traps, and then picked the lock. Hagbarde opened the door.

The scene inside the door was quite different from anything else in the tower. The group was standing at the bottom of a large, well-like cavern almost completely filled by a gracefully curving tower of ribbed black stone. Some 30 feet up in the hollow of the tower's curve a gigantic sphere of utter blackness devoured any shred of light and obscured the top of the tower from view. Additionally, Hagbarde saw a mirror image of the tower, hanging upside down in the ethereal plane, which he shared with his companions.

Using Detect Evil and Detect Undead, the cleric confirmed that the temple was indeed both. He proceed to cast a Maximized Turn Undead. The orb in the center was noticeably harmed. He did it again, harming the orb again. Fnord attacked the orb with his Mace of Disruption. His mace seemed to pass right through the orb. Maeve charged her arrows to be both Ghost Touch and Greater Slay Undead, she fumbled her first shot, but her next four rounds all hit with each arrow going directly into the sphere; it was too difficult to tell whether any damage was done. Hagbarde threw one of his pints of Holy Water at the orb. The container entered the sphere and disappeared. The cleric returned to Maximized Turning. The orb blinked out of existence. Both towers were still there.

Hagbarde again cast Detect Undead. The towers were not undead. Detect Evil revealed that they were not evil, in and of themselves, either. As the adventurers discussed this, they noticed that the door through which they had come was now closed behind them and very hard to distinguish from the rest of the wall. The cleric cast Glitter Dust on the door and then realized that it would probably only last a short while. Fnord shifted and grew a Beholder Eye which he then used to disintegrate a mark in the wall near the door so they would be able to find it again.

Next they turned their attention to the material tower in front of them. There were no obvious doors or entry points. Hagbarde cast Pass Wall, creating a tunnel into the Tower. The strange-shaped room was filled with smooth ivory columns arranged in four uneven, curving rows of four columns each. A stairway lead up at one end of the room and a door exited through the opposite wall. Carefully the adventurers stepped into the tower. In the room were 6 adversaries facing the party.

Cayce attacked the nearest Cult Cleric, taking him out with his first three attacks, and then turned his remaining attacks on the Vrock, hitting with all three of his remaining attacks; the Nightmare, with the Ghost Champion astride him, charged Hagbarde, attacking and hitting with both front hooves and biting the cleric for a total of 48 points, then snorting out a 15 foot Cone of Smoke, everyone Saved; Ghost Champion's Horrific Appearance did not effect anyone as they all Saved, still he attacked Hagbarde, hitting all three times, but the cleric Saved; Fnord shifted into a Blackstone Gigant, and attacked the Vrock, hitting for 30 points and taking it out, he then targeted the Nightmare, hitting it three times; Hagbarde attacked the Ghost Champion with his Thundering Mace of Disruption, hitting once, but the Ghost Champion Saved and only took 11 points; Maeve made her arrows Greater Slaying Outsider Evil and took out the Nightmare with her first round, with her next three rounds she took out Cult Cleric-3, she turned her last attack on Cult Cleric-1, damaging him as well; Cult Cleric-1 cast Mordankainen's Disjunction, Hagbarde was immune, Maeve and Fnord and Cayce each managed to save most if not all of their items, although Fnord and Maeve each lost their spell immunities.

Cayce attacked Cult Cleric-1, hitting with his first three attacks and taking him out, he turned his attention to the Ghost Champion, but his attacks passed through his adversary with no effect; Ghost Champion attacked Hagbarde, hitting three times, but the cleric Saved each time; Fnord drew his sword, imbued with Ghost Touch, and attacked, hitting three times and severely damaging him; Hagbarde attacked with his Thundering Mace of Disruption, hitting for 8 and deafening his rival, then hitting again for 14, and taking him out.

Searching the bodies and the room they found: a set of Ethereal +2 Plate, an Ethereal +2 Spiked Chain, three sets of +2 full plate, three +1 large steel shields, three +1 morningstars, three Scrolls of Flame Strike, three Scrolls of Blade Barrier, three Wands of Monster Summoning III (15 charges), three Masterwork light crossbows, 60 masterwork bolts, 300pp, an emerald (1000gp), a jade cameo pendant (250gp), and an Ioun Stone: Dusty Rose Prism.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Getting Back to Business

You may be noticing that looks a little different...right after you noticed that it's finally back online, that is. Well, as you may remember, we experienced some technical difficulties shortly after the beginning of the year. After a lot of troubleshooting, researching, and diagnosing, we determined that larger repairs than originally thought were in order. Long story short, we had to pretty much rebuild the computer from scratch...which we now have to do with the website.

So, dear readers, please accept our apologies for the long delay of activity, and bear with us as we reconstruct the new and improved And, welcome back!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Would Switch Dice But This Is So Much Fun!

Ken and Cathy, as we set up to play: I think we should all depend heavily on Hagbarde this time around. - Why? Because I'm asleep? - Yes!
Katy, during a search of the room: Well, we don't know that Cayce rolled a 1, even though he rolled a 1.
Cathy, when they found another Levitation Room: Hey guys, we've been given the shaft!
Bruce, as he continued to roll 1's for the party's NPC: I would switch dice but this is so much fun!
Katy, Cathy, and Ken, when Bruce showed them a picture of the creature they were about to face: Ew! - Ew! - Cool!
Bruce and Ken, when Cathy suggested casting Mordankainen's Disjunction at their enemy: Hagbarde did what?! - Cleric, heal thyself! - I'd kill you but I don't have anything magical left to use!
Ken, suggesting what Cathy should do to figure out what she should do: Cast 'Maximize Brain.'
Ken, singing about how the party should keep quiet as they raided the rooms laden with his greatest phobia: Killing you softly with your tile...killing you softly....
Cathy, singing spontaneously: Ooh, ooh, ooh, do we see a demon there? Ooh, ooh ooh, what color is his hair? Ooh ooh will he do a beard attack? On his little back? Oooh, what is going on in the town tonight?
Ken, about whether Fnord knew where to Dimension Door to join the party: Well, I could [do it] if someone came to the door and told me where to go...wait, let me rephrase that!

"Are you aware that Shadow Magic and regular-Weave magic are incompatible?" Fnord asked the ambassador.

"Actually, they are not. However, this particular disruption is damaging to the Weave."

"Do you know what is causing that disruption?" Hagbarde wanted to know.

"I can't say for sure, but I suspect the disruption is caused by the Undying Temple. The Temple itself appears to be Undead."

"Do you have a vested interested in the Temple's continued Undead status?" Fnord asked.

"I am not taking any sides in this issue. I will simply report back."

"Is the Undying Temple sacred to any of your people?" asked Hagbarde.

"No, our gods are much older than that. The Drow are upstarts."

"As a diplomat you must understand that our position in this is similar to yours. We are on a mission to restore the Weave and return harmony."

"The interests of Shade will be served whether or not the Undying Temple is destroyed."

"Do you have any idea how many servants of the Temple are still present?" Maeve chimed in.

"I have never been into the Temple."

"Again, our apologies for our hasty entrance into your chamber. Thank you for your assistance and information. Farewell." Hagbarde said to the ambassador.

The party returned to the hall and headed to the right. They reached a door and Cayce listened at it, but heard nothing. Maeve found no traps and neither did Fnord. Cayce picked the lock. Hagbarde opened the door. Two neatly-made bunks and a variety of weapons hanging on the walls occupied the room. It seemed to be the residence of someone with plain but martial tastes. There was no one in the room. They entered the room and headed to the next nearest door -- a set of double-doors on the same wall.

Cayce listened, but again heard nothing. Fnord searched and found a trap. Cayce attempted to disable it, but triggered it accidentally instead. Everyone Saved. The door was still locked. Cayce picked the lock and Hagbarde opened the door. Clearly Drow of some importance lived in this suite of rooms. The walls were sheathed in magnificent fluted paneling of ebony and gold, the floors were made of black gold-veined marble, and the elegant furnishings were made from exotic surface hardwoods lovingly carved into beautiful, if vaguely sinister, designs. A great battle seemed to have been fought through the rooms of the suite, as evidenced by the scorch and impact marks marring almost every wall and brown bloodstains appearing on many of the furnishings. In the smallest room of the suite were five large chests.

Fnord searched the nearest chest for traps and found none, it was not even locked. A quick looting of the room ensued, yielding: 480pp, 8400gp, 26300sp, 6 golden goblets, a masterwork lute, a ceremonial court costume, 45 gems, a Staff of Frost (40 charges), +4 Elven Chainmail of Invulnerability, and a +3 Heavy Mace of Disruption.

There was one closed door at the far end of the suite. Not wanting to leave any stone left unturned, the group headed over to check it out. Cayce listened but heard nothing. Fnord searched for traps and found none. The door opened easily and revealed an empty space with no doors or stairs -- another Levitation Shaft, this one leading down to the floor whence they had just come.

Retracing their steps, they returned to the large room at the end of the hall. There was a set of double-doors made of stone and covered with golden spider designs. Cayce listened and heard the sound of rushing wind. He found no traps and picked the lock. Hagbarde opened the door revealing a long, slender hallway stretching between the Lesser Tower and the Great Tower. Narrow windows looked down on the city below from a dizzying height. Huge stalactites hung down from the ceiling. Double doors of stone decorated with golden spider designs where the means of egress at each end of the bridge.

The adventurers headed across the bridge. At the doors at the far end Cayce listened at the door and heard nothing. He found no traps and picked the lock. Hagbarde opened the door. A strange glowing shaft of light 10 feet in diameter pierced the room. In the weird illumination it was possible to see that the column of light descended through several more chambers, going down 100 feet or more. There was a stairway going up and a door in the room as well.

Cayce headed over and listened at the door, but heard nothing. It was unlocked and untrapped. Hagbarde opened the door. The small but comfortable room was well appointed with purple tapestries and velvet-covered furnishings. The room smelled oddly of old perfumes. Seeing nothing of interest in the suite, they returned to the main room and checked out the stairwell. At the top of the stairs the levitation shaft opened into a large circular chamber with two small doors in the north wall and a large double door of stone in the south wall. The shaft continued to the room above and the room below. A large green statue of a monstrous spider dominated the chamber. It was only 5 feet high, but fully 20 feet in diameter -- easily half the width of the room. Hagbarde and Fnord knew immediate that the statue was actually a stone construct.

Cayce attacked the Jade Spider and hit all 6 times; Fnord shifted into an Adamantine Golem and attacked the Jade Spider, hitting once for 13; Hagbarde cast Flame Strike, hitting for 52 and killing the Jade Spider. While Maeve took the time to stick some more magical arrows in her quiver, thus recharging it, Cayce went to investigate the doors on either side of the Levitation Shaft. At the first door, Cayce heard some scraping sounds, which stopped after a moment. He proceeded to search the door for traps, found none, and determined that it was unlocked. Hagbarde opened the door.

The room beyond was a small armory, complete with arming dummies on which suits of mail hung and long racks of polearms and crossbows along the walls. Lights bobbed disconcertingly around in the darkness in the center of the room, floating around a skull resting on the floor, lit with emerald green fire.

Hagbarde studied the item with his Knowledge: Arcana and determined that it was a Drow skull; it was definitely emanating magic.

Cayce attacked with his gauntlets, hitting every time, but each of his attacks seemed to be deflected by the Skull; Skull cast Otto's Irresistible Dance on Maeve, who began to dance; Fnord charged the Skull, attempting to trample it, and severely damagied it; Maeve continued to bust a move; Hagbarde cast Greater Dispel Magic and the lights and green glow went away, the cleric looked around with his Detect Magic sight and noticed that one of the practice dummies was surprisingly life-like, fully-armed, and standing right behind the still-dancing Maeve.

Cayce began looking about the room to see if there was anything to loot; the Practice Dummy seemed to disappear. After a short while Maeve stopped dancing. The party looked about the room. They found: a Masterwork short-sword set with emeralds, 4 suits of Masterwork Elven Chainmail, and a Masterwork Light Crossbow

Returning to the room where they'd fought the Jade Skull, the adventurers headed to the far doors. They traversed the hallway beyond reaching the far doors easily. Cayce listened at the doors, but heard nothing. He found no traps. Hagbarde tried the door, but it was locked. Cayce unlocked it and the cleric opened the door. Three silver goblets fell to the floor with a clatter, their stack knocked over by the opening of the door.

This small room seemed to have been a reception area of some kind. Double doors of stone led out to the north and the south. The room was finished in glossy black tile, but had no other furnishings or decorations. There was no one in the room.

"I'm not going in there!" said Fnord, backing away. Cowering in a corner of the outer room, the war shifter cast Psionic Energy Ball, hoping to melt the offending tile, while his companions stayed a safe distance away as well. He succeeded in cracking the tile throughout the room, but not melting it. Hagbarde stepped up and cast Fireball into the room. The tile was damaged further, but still sufficiently intact to traumatize Fnord, even though the door was pretty much gone.

"Why don't you all go into the next room and tell me if there's tile. If not, I can Dimension Door to join you...otherwise, I'm waiting here," said Fnord.

Just then a demonic creature appeared in the doorway to that far room, focusing all his attention on the party.

Cayce attacked the Demon, hitting three times, once critically; Fnord continued to stay away from the tile; Maeve made her arrows Greater Slay Outsider Evil, hitting four times, once critically, and knocking him to the floor with a metallic clanking, the ranger shot her last round just as a coup de gras.

Hagbarde walked over and investigated the corpse. Opening the visor of the suit of demonic-shaped armor, he saw a dead male Drow. Looking in the room beyond, the cleric saw nothing magical. The entire suite, however, was tiled. On the body they found: Demon Armor, a +2 Unholy Greatsword, and Gauntlets of Ogre Power.

Continuing about the suite they saw various silver serving dishes and utensils, but opted not to take them. They descended the spiral staircase in the middle of the room and found an observation lounge affording them a view of the entire city of Maerimydra. Climbing back up the stairs they next headed to the door on the far side of the room. Cayce listened, he heard conversation in a language he did not understand; all he could say was that it was not human and sounded malevolent. He searched the door, found no traps, unlocked it, and Hagbarde opened the door.

The room looked as if a crazed demon had worked its will on the place. A path made of bones curved from the doors in the north wall to a large staircase leading up to the east. There the room appeared to continue almost 40 feet above. The floor around the path was warped and shaped to look as though half-rotted corpses or melting souls were trying to free themselves from its grasp. The walls bore images similar to those on the floor, with all the figures facing toward the door. Two columns shaped like skeletons and surmounted by winged gargoyle-like figures flanked the staircase and other nightmarish statutes stood elsewhere about the room.

Cayce attacked the nearest Demon, hitting with five of his six attacks; Demon-1 closed and attacked Hagbarde, hitting three times for a total of 36, and biting for 8 plus 2 points of Constitution Drain; Demon-2 closed with Hagbarde and attacked, hitting thrice for a total of 36, and biting for 5 points plus 1 point of Constitution Drain; Hagbarde cast Turn Undead and Demon-1 and Demon-2 took flight and headed up the stairs; Maeve made her arrows Greater Slay Undead and took out Demon-3, and the fleeing Demon-1 and Demon-2.

Hagbarde cast Restoration on himself. Then the cleric Dimension Doored out to Fnord, told him that the rest of the party was all right, and showed him the way to get Dimension Door himself past the tile to catch up with the group. Moments later the two appeared back in the room. Then the group proceeded to loot. They found: 4000gp, 12000sp, a Crystal of Screening: Greater, a Rod of Silence, and a Vampire Torque.

Next the group headed up the stairs. At the top the faced a set of double-doors which were open. If the entrance hall to this room was grotesque, the chamber beyond was itself blasphemously obscene. Images of death were everywhere -- usually tortured, painful death. Shattered fragments of bone dyed a variety of colors formed ghastly mosaics on the walls, floor, and ceiling. Decaying corpses were used like furniture: two rotting Drow knelt on the floor supporting a slab of stone between them, two more flanked the makeshift altar holding smoking braziers in seared hands, another knelt in front of the altar holding a massive tome so that someone standing behind the altar could read it. A small wooden door exited to the south into what appeared to be a sacristy or vestment room. A large double door of stone emblazoned with a silver-ringed ebon hand stood on the west wall. On the curving northwest wall was a large mural, no less disturbing than the others in the room. In this picture, a female Drow sat on a throne of bones, her otherwise beautiful face painted like a skull, a silver ring adorned each finger on her slender hands; to her right stood an eerily beautiful Elf woman with skin as white as alabaster and one eye glowing red while the other was covered by a silver plate studded with rubies, her head was hairless and her body was wrapped in glowing blue-green mist.

Although Hagbarde desperately wanted to Consecrate this evil temple, he did not have the supplies and was thus not prepared to do so. Instead the adventurers headed toward the double-doors at the far side of the room. Cayce listened, but heard nothing, he found no traps, and the door was unlocked. Hagbarde opened it.

The passage ahead was completely blocked by a column of violet flame that burned without heat. Its lurid light flickered over the nearby walls and sent shadows dancing all around. A huge, still figure could be dimly glimpsed through the flames.

Hagbarde used Detect Undead and determined that the creature in the hallway was not Undead, which he shared with his comrades.

Cayce attacked their adversary, hitting with five of his six attacks; Hagbarde determined that the violet flames in the hallway were magical, and then cast Dispel Magic on them, but the flames did not disappear; Maeve shot the enemy, hitting all five times, once critically; Fnord grew a Beholder Anti-Magic Eye and targeted the hallway, removing the purple flames, revealing that their adversary was an Iron Golem; Iron Golem attacked Hagbarde, hitting twice for a total of 61.

Cayce attacked Iron Golem, hitting with five of his six attacks; Hagbarde held his action; Maeve shot all 5 of her arrows, but couldn't overcome the Iron Golem's damage reduction; Fnord shifted into a Rust Monster and touched the Iron Golem, rusting it.

Hagbarde glowed with his Silver Fire Aura and then teleported the party back to Manifest.