Thursday, January 17, 2013

EPISODE 73: Queen of Lies, Part V: Drow Crushers

August 5, 754 YE


Dziga the shadowdancing rogue, Emeris the shadowcasting shade, and Vatex the dancing slashing urban ranger elf assault the guard post at the bridge leading from Tower I to Tower III.

The guards and their lieutenant are brutally slaughtered. Across teh huge stone span to Tower III, they can see ranks of drow lining up to protect the gate, but apparently waiting for something.

Then Dr Trivon Llaron, a drow expert in the field of hormonal therapy, steps through the ranks with two particularly big bugbears at his side. Dr Trivon says that he has biologically engineered a special rage hormone that causes the bugbears to become insanely powerful during their barbarian rages! He says he will prove the effectiveness of the hormone by crushing these surface attackers with his bugbears. Then House Vrama will put his hormone into mass production and create an army of super-bugbear barbarians. And he will become the greatest drow doctor...ever!

As the bugbears get ready to charge across the bridge, Emeris throws up shadow barriers in their way. Dr Trivon spazzes out, saying he is ruining the test! He orders guards to find some wizards who can dispel the barriers. The only wizards immediately available are unable to overcome Emeris’ shadow magic. The doctor, bugbears, and guards fall back... but Emeris goes invisible, teleports across the bridge, and nukes the guard post with a maximized blast of killing shadows! He blows away a couple of driders, a ballista crew, a cluster of guards, and injures the doctor and one of his barbarians. Emeris teleports back.

After the barriers go down, the battle really gets crazy. The Rosegate Company faces hordes of drow troops on the bridge, clerical and sorcerous driders, and deadly ninja squads. But that pales against the challenge they face when the bugbear barbarians come back, fully healed and ready to fight.

As the bugbears fighrt Dziga and Vatex, they begin to rage. Their blows become devastating and their reslience to damage becomes truly incredible. Dziga is forced to use the Deathstrike Bracers to even make them flinch. Vatex unleashes the most powerful attack sequences he can muster. The bugbears wear only leather armor, but their flesh is like stone.

Emeris’ aid would be beneficial, but emerging behind the group from Tower I is a drow gadgeteer and an entourage of Gorgoth-lol’s freedom paladins and he must face them. The gadgeteer first attempts to kill Emeris quickly with his Wand Gattler, which fires five lightning bolt ones on a single discharge. Emeris’ mighty spell resistance as a shade leaves him completely unscathed. As the crusaders attack him, the gadgeteer uses a different device which fires glob of burning plasma.  

Dziga and Vatex are battered and bloody, but they manage to take down the bugbear barbarians. Dr Trivon can’t believe it! He retreats into Tower III, vowing that they haven’t seen the last of him.

Emeris absorbs chaos crusader souls with the Shadowgeist Reaver, then goes after the gadgeteer who hits him a couple of times with plasma blasts. But it is not long before his soul too feeds the shadowgeist reaver.


The group falls back to heal and decide what to do. They hide when they hear someone coming. It’s an illithid coming down the stairs. They jump out of hiding and it pleads for its life, saying its just a visitor from a faraway illthid city and it just wants to flee.

They let the mind flayer go,  but not without surrendering some information. They learn the following:

> There is a drow ninja dojo in Tower III.
> There is a temple of Gorgoth-lol in the basement of Tower I.
> The leader of Ul-Drakkan and House Vrama is Alvolenz. The illithid is afraid of her power. Some say she is a half-demon, or a succubus in disguise. There is even the rumor that Alvolenz is a ZAUG, which is a low level Galchutt entity. Her chamber is at the top of Tower I. In any case, she is believed to be super-powerful. She uses both arcane AND divine magic.
> Ul-Drakkan was abandoned only a few years ago, and House Vrama in shambles. But Alvolenz reinvigorated the House, took back the fortress, and has overseen great improvement in the House’s finances.  
> Alvolenz has been visited by a mysterious masked illthid called “The Architech”. The nature of those visits is unknown. Nor is much known about the ostensibly unaffiliated Architech, except even other mind flayers are afraid of it.

They decide that although it would be fun to hunt down Dr Trivon and kill him in Tower III, it would be best to try and attack Alvolenz. They figure she is probably at the top of Tower I, so they head there.

They head up one level, and Dziga disables a series of traps. They find the chamber of a weird dark elf shadowcaster called Minilir, whose chamber is lined with shelves full of weird scuptures and figurines. For Dziga, some of these sculptures evoke the weird statue in the Rat God Temple, and the weird star-headed thing that manifested from his dreams.

Minilir seems to want no direct confrontation, but he doesn’t help them either. He reveals his is Alvolenz’s councilor. He denies the claim that she is a demon or a zaug, and finds those rumors amusing. He says if they try to fight her, they will die.

Dziga asks about the star-headed thing, and Minilir says they are a race of beings called “tyranthraxi” or “soul riders”  that can attach to other people’s souls. They have mastered the ability to travel not only through space, but through time as well. Not much is known about them.

They leave Minilir and trigger a trap in an adjacent corridor that causes a chaos spawn called a blorgoth to attack them. The blorgoth attacks with blasts of raw chaos power. It seems to distort reality around it, making it difficult to injure. Dziga and Vatex weaken it with a flurry of attacks, then Emeris attempts to absorb its soul.

OUCH! The Shadowgeist Reaver absorbs the ‘soul’ or whatever the chaos spawn possesses. Emeris’ great mind resists the mental trauma, but his body is affected right down at the cellular level -- the power of chaos MUTATES HIM! But, arguably, it ends up being the best mutation you can get -- a mutation that makes him more resistant to mutation. Score!

NEXT TIME: The showdown with Alvolenz and her guardians! But is there another power behind House Vrama's rise? Maybe. Will Ul-Drakkan and House Vrama be toppled for good?

EPISODE 72: Queen of Lies, Part IV: The Storming of the Drow Fortress

August 5, 754 YE


The remaining human mercenaries bind their wounds, then find the key to the slave pens after searching the fallen dark elves. Jaren Thor leads his men in their raid on the slave pens, fighting off a ferocious ogress with garish makeup and a belt full of torture implements, and a few more drow guards. One human merc is put down by drow sleeping poison on a crossbow bolt, the other has his head smashed by the ogress before she is cut down.

Among the prisoners is Raelan Teranith, Kistrae Neverwind, and Cam Jaystone -- three shrine servants captured from the Temple of Calethon in the drow surface raid. The cleric Theron Thelonia however is NOT among them. The other prisoners report the drow took him to the fortress yesterday, surely for some foul purpose.

Jaren is able to convince the prisoners to join the attack on the fortress -- slave rebellion! All in all they are joined by 12 human slaves, 9 elves, 3 dwarves, a halfling, a locathah (who doesn’t seem to mix with the other slaves) and even six dark elves from other Houses. They equip themselves with weapons and armor from the cleared out barracks outside the slave pens.

This group hurries to join the elves attack on the fortress, not realizing that the elf attack has encountered a serious setback...


While the human mercs carry out their mission at the slaves pens, Zaetra Stallinash leads the elves into the fungus fields on the way to the fortress. There are virtually no soldiers protecting the fungus farmers, and the elves slaughter the drow civilians with no remorse. About 45 civilians, including males, females, and even a few children are killed. The drow are completely unprepared for this attack. The small groups of soldiers they encounter are forced to retreat back to the fortress otherwise be slaughtered by the sizable elf force.

One drow lieutenant has his squad make a few hit and run attacks on the surface elves. Zaetra prepares an effective counter attack and shoots down the drow and the lieutenant retreats. Three elves are sent to pursue him and kill him. Unfortunately, they are never heard from again. The lieutenant systematically takes them down in the thick fungus forest, then makes a wide circle to get back to base.

Trumpets of Alarm start sounding from fortress. Zaetra’s elves shoot down a few more civilians and soldier squads. As the fortress reaches a higher state of alert, the elves come under fire from the huge ballistae on the fortress are forced to pull back until the humans arrive. However, they are still able to continue picking off small groups of guards and civilians.

Meanwhile, the Rosegate Company and the drow rogue Savinian move around the periphery of the cavern housing Ul-Drakkan towards the Stables and the teleportation circle. Dziga’s shadow scouts ahead, and is chased by a couple of bugbears who think it’s a ghost or something. The other guards seem to ignore the issue.

With this distraction provided by the ‘ghost’, the company is easily able to sneak into the stables past the bugbear barracks. The shadow finds the teleportation circle, and getting there takes the group into the path of a few drow stablehands and bugbear guards who are quickly, quietly dispatched.

As they approach the teleport circle, they encounter the drow Beastmaster and his two chaos crusader guards. The crusaders use their special techniques provided by Gorgoth-lol, and the Beastmaster is able to stab key nerve intersections which leave the victim substantially weakened! But the Rosegate Company defeats these foes and enters the teleporter.

Alarms begins to sound at the fortress, indicating the elf attack is proceeding as planned. Now the attack on the fortress REALLY begins.

It doesn’t take long for the Rosegate Company’s attack to start spreading chaos within the fortress, which hampers the drow’s ability to respond to the elves, who continue butchering any drow they see.

Eventually, Vrama’s security specialists get the “Elf Eater” fired up and sent out to deal with the elf problem. The Elf Eater is a horrible chaosomaton -- a chaositech construct meant to mimic a living creature. In this case, a six-headed hydra!!!

The hydra is big and slow, however the elves soon find themselves utterly helpless against it. Their weapons can barely crack its armor! Worse yet, when they do get lucky enough to find a weak spot, it heals almost instantly! Zaetra gets a critical hit with a grenade and it doesn’t even slow down the monster.

After taking heavy losses against the chaosomaton, the elves are forced to flee, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse in the thick forests of fungus... How long before they are devoured?

Dziga, Emeris, Vatex and Savinian are teleported into one of the top levels of the central tower of Ul-Drakkan. They storm through a nearby drug parlor and kill the intoxicated drow there who have not even roused to the alarms. They attack a guard post and kill the troops there. Dziga merges with shadow and scouts the level below, seeing another guard post at the bridge connecting to Tower III being fortified.

Before that can be much considered, a group of four drow with shaved heads, baggy pants, and crazy tattoos rush upstairs into the drug parlor, attacking Emeris and Vatex! They are hardcore drow monks! Dziga sneaks up behind them and joins the battle, which is fierce. The monks fight with mystical techniques like hadukens and punches that cause force explosions. The heroes take a good beating but dish it out five times as bad and kill their foes.

With a brief respite, the group heals in the drug parlor then storms the guard post below.