Saturday, November 14, 2009

Praktas - The Temple of Elemental Weevils

Game Date: 11/14/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
Tirah (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand Style)
Dorath (Bryan) - Goliath Fighter (Great Weapon Style)

This is another quest loosely based on one of my Itropa areas. The title is a parody of the well-known classic D&D module, "The Temple of Elemental Evil."

Bryan's Goliath fighter Dorath - who he had only run once for a practice game - came to visit, and invited our heroes to Fist's annual fighting tournament. It was a three day ride to Fist, riding along the base of a mountain range. On the second night, Damakos was woken up by the sound of someone gasping. He got up just in time to see a young man stumble out of the mountains, barely saying the words "Ultimate treasure..." before falling over dead at the tiefling's feet.

Of course Damakos looted him for all he was worth, and discovered some badly damaged journals. There was very little left that was legible. He found this bit of an entry:

As my grandfather gave me these notes, his dying words were “Don’t forget Rob”. Who is Rob? Am I supposed to meet someone named Rob? Or could he have meant “steal”? Was he asking me to steal something?

Even though it killed him, I am determined to pick up where my grandfather left off. I will find this “ultimate treasure” he spoke of.

(Yes, I know that's cheesy. Welcome to my campaign.)

The rest of the journal was written in a different handwriting. But since most of the pages were burnt, wet, or missing, these were the only snippets he could read:

(This is what it would have looked like if I'd had some parchment paper.)

There were also some crudely drawn maps, pointing to a mountain not far from their campsite. Damakos pocketed a small amount of the corpse's loot, then woke up the others and filled them in. They still decided to go to the fighting tournament first, but on their way back to Trasa, they followed the map.

The map led them to a cave. Once inside, the rough tunnel gradually became a fully-finished, marble-tiled, torch-lit passage. They passed a stable area, where a brown-robed man was tending to several horses. Tirah walked up and asked him a few questions. He wasn't much help, but at least he wasn't a threat - as far as he knew, our adventurers were supposed to be there.

The main hallway finally ended in a set of double doors. There was a magical light shaft nearby, which they determined to be a portal. However, this was the exit end, so they couldn't use it from this location.

Through the double doors, they entered a large temple. The basic layout was sort of bug-like, with rounded walls and six side passages. Four of the passages had color themes, and there was a large golden door at the head of the room. The temple was also full of robed people, each wearing one of four colored robes - red, brown, blue, or white. None of them seemed to care about the PCs.

(Come to think of it, it looks like a Spider-Tracer.)

On the golden door, instead of a door handle, it just had a small raised rectangle with four diamond-shaped indentations. The following poem was carved into the door, just above the rectangle:

Four sisters from the dawn of time,
They rule the world and always will.
The first she runs and never tires,
The second eats to comfort or kill.
The third she lies and carries all,
The fourth oft sings with breath so chill.
(I got this from an online page of riddles, which I altered to suit my needs.)

The PCs started to go down one of the colored passages, and one of the robed people ran up to them and stopped them. Looking at their pets, he asked, "Are those animals to be fed to the Weevil? Very good, but that door is only for the faithful." The players quickly realized they needed to get themselves some robes. So they explored the West passage (living quarters) but couldn't find an easy way to steal the robes they needed without risk.

(DM Secret: The cultists don't really "own" their robes; it's all communal property. They're also fairly easy-going unless threatened. If a cultist had caught a PC stealing his robe, he probably would have said, "Take it, my friend, I'll get another from the storage room.")

The PCs then checked out the East hall. There were two doors at the end of that hall. One was full of caged animals, as well as a young male half-orc (also caged). The half-orc begged them to set him free, because he was going to be "fed to the Weevil." They didn't release him yet, figuring it might get them into trouble, but they did plan to do so eventually.

The other door was the storage room. It was full of robes in five colors: red, blue, brown, white, and gold. They hadn't seen anyone in a gold robe so far, but they went ahead and took plenty of robes of all colors. The adventurers then donned the blue robes, and went down the blue hall.

The Temple of Water

They found themselves in another worship room, much smaller than the main temple. The room was chilly, and had a water/ice theme. The room was decorated with ice sculptures, and the walls were painted with images of oceans and sea life. There were a few blue-robed people sitting on pews, listening to another man who was preaching from behind a podium. Behind him, a young elven girl was tied up. When the PCs entered, the preacher thanked them for bringing more animals, because he wasn't sure the girl would be enough to feed the Weevil.

He allowed them to pass through the door behind him, having them take the elf girl with them. Once they were out of the preacher's sight, they untied the girl, but she was too scared to help them in battle.

They walked down some stairs. The room at the bottom was filled with water, waist-high. Towards the back of the room, there was a 3x3 pedestal, on which stood three pushable statues: An Elf, an Orc, and a Halfling. The room's exit was on the wall behind the pedestal, to the right. They remembered their clue: "The Orc is flanked, the Halfling readies his exit." They started pushing statues around, but were attacked by a pair of Water Elementals. The room's aquatic nature made it rough terrain, which made the battle all the more difficult, but they won in the end. Then they continued playing with the statues.

This turned out to be the answer:

Technically, there were two other combinations that fit the clues. But then, these are clues, not answers. Once they found the right order, the door opened. They also found a lever that drained the water in the room. They went down some more stairs, and found the Water Weevil.

This was another room with waist-high water. The players could only move half-speed, but the Weevil could skim the surface and move all over the room. He had several water-themed abilities, throwing tidal waves and jets of water at them. I personally found the Weevil battles to be a bit tedious. I think I gave them too many hit points.

Once it was dead, they found a diamond-shaped blue jewel in the Weevil's forehead, the same shape as the indentations in the gold door. They also found a nest in the room, which looked like it had once held some weevil eggs, but it was currently empty. The room also contained a yellow lightshaft, which they used to teleport themselves back outside the main temple's double doors.

They left the temple/cave and took a nice long rest outdoors. (DM Secret: If they'd stayed in the cultists' living quarters, they wouldn't have been attacked or anything. Still, someone might have made them put their animals in the West hall cages, and the pets might have been taken to be sacrificed while the PCs slept. So overall they probably made the right choice.) The elf girl left their party at this point, taking her chances with the road to Trasa. Now well-rested, the PCs decided to put on the white robes and tackle the white hallway.

The Temple of Air

The white temple's worship area was identical in layout to the blue temple. The only difference was the theme - instead of water and fish, the room was decorated with images of clouds and birds. Using the old "weevil food" ruse, the PCs managed to talk their way through the next door without incident, and soon found themselves on a windy ledge:

D=Door, G=Gargoyle, L=Lever

The PCs started on the left side of the room, "D". Beyond their 2x5 ledge, there was a 5-foot wide, 75-foot long bridge (that's 1x15 squares) leading to the opposite ledge. The floor (purple) was 30 feet down. Not a deadly drop, but damaging - and annoying. There was a ladder on the PCs' side, but not the opposite side. So if a PC fell off the ledge, they could still get back out, but only on the left side of the room.

The bridge was visibly divided into 5x5 square tiles. They remembered the clue: 3, 6, 8, 11, 15. They smartly surmised that since the bridge was 15 squares long, that the clue must be referring to tiles of the bridge. They not-so-smartly decided that these must be the "safe" squares. So they had Drew jump from the ledge to tile 3 on the bridge. He nailed his Athletics check, but as soon as he landed on the tile, it activated a mechanism, and some heavy winds started to blow. Drew made his saving throw, and remained on the bridge.

But that's when the gargoyles came to life. These annoying flyers had the ability to push or pull their enemies when they attacked. One of them also pulled the first lever, which made more winds blow. Dorath was the only one unlucky enough to get pulled off the ledge, and after the second time he just stayed at the bottom and threw weapons at the gargoyles above him.

Eventually they killed the gargoyles, and Drew made it across the bridge. Pulling the second lever deactivated all the tiles, allowing the other players to cross without jumping over the trap squares. They PCs went through the next door, and found the Air Weevil's room.

The light gray is the normal floor. The dark gray is 20 feet higher. The dark gray walls were covered with spikes, which could be used to climb up to the dark gray ledge. Of course, the PCs could also be blown into these spikes if the wind was high enough. There were four control levers, one on each wall, which could retract the spikes on that wall.

The wind had its own place in the initiative order, and would blow in a different direction each turn, pushing everyone (except the Weevil) one square. Of course, the Weevil could fly, and had a lot of wind-based attacks.

After the battle, they once again took the Weevil's forehead jewel, then left the temple and camped. Then they remembered the Half-Orc prisoner. They decided to check up on him, but he was no longer in his cell. So they split the party. Tirah, Damakos, and the animals went to the brown door, while Dorath and Drew went to the red door.

The Temple of Earth

Damakos and Tirah peeked into the Earth Temple worship room, just in time to see the Earth preacher pulling a chained-up Half-Orc through the back door. They quickly followed. Once through the door, Damakos decided to attack the cultist from behind, while Tirah went to get the rest of the party.

Damakos had no trouble taking him out. However, the clue for this area was "Noise awakens the..." Well, noise awakened the. Just as Tirah and the others were getting back, Damakos was attacked by a pair of Earth Elementals.

After defeating the Elementals, they easily followed the other clue: "Always left in the tunnels." The tunnel branched five times, and each time they took the left passage. Note, originally I was going to have them make stealth checks for each tunnel to see if they woke the Elementals. But since the Elementals were already dead, it didn't really matter.

The Earth Weevil was in a large cave room. Several of his attacks hit everyone in the room, such as earthquakes and cave-ins. After he was dead, they took the jewel, left the mountain and, rested. The Half-Orc left the party, and the PCs changed robes so they could hit the Fire Temple.

The Temple of Fire

This one was easy. After talking their way through the worship room, they found themselves in a tunnel with walls made of fire. At the end of the tunnel, there were two door-shaped areas of blue flame, one on the left, and one on the right. So they followed the clue (Right, Left, Left, Right, ?), and went right. The blue flames did no damage, and just felt like cool air. Wash, rinse, repeat, until the final tunnel, which just had a ? in the notes. They had a 50/50 chance, and they chose correctly, so they avoided fighting what would have been a pair of Fire Elementals.

The Fire Weevil used a lot of poison-based attacks. No, wait, come to think of it, he used fire. The room itself also contained some fire traps, which would have shot bursts of flame from holes in the floor, but they quickly found the control mechanism and disarmed it.

Once the Weevil was toast, with all four colored gems in hand, the party rested and went to the Temple of Light.

The Temple of Light

The golden door required the four gems to be inserted in a specific order, the same order as the poem: Water, Fire, Earth, Air. They found the final temple's worship room, but it didn't look like it had been used in years. While the other four temples had elemental themes, this one seemed to have a theme of life, or possibly love. The cultists would have called it "The Temple of Light", but "light" might refer more to enlightenment than actual light.

Next, they found another puzzle room. There were three oval indentations in the door, and seven oval gemstones on a pedestal. The stones were in the colors of the rainbow - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Bryan figured it out instantly - it was a reference to the "Rob" clue. He put the Red, Orange, and Blue stones into the door, and it opened. (DM Secret: A wrong combination of gems would have triggered a trap, and possibly alerted some monsters.)

As they looked down the final hallway, they saw a strange sight: There was the final Weevil, but it was chained to the wall. There were several goblins taking the Weevil's eggs and placing them into a bag of holding. The PCs also noticed another shape in the farthest shadows of the room, but couldn't make it out at first.

The dark shape turned out to be a Drow. Once the battle began, he made a few hand signals, and four more Drow stepped out of the shadows.

Each Drow had a different specialty. Two were classic rapier/crossbow fighters, one of whom had an Onyx Dog companion. Another was an assassin, using 4e's "Assassin's Shroud" ability. Another was a female with a snake-headed whip. And finally there was a magic user, who could summon a spider companion. Of course, all of them had the Drow ability to use faerie fire (aka Darkfire; gives combat advantage against a target) and to create areas of magical darkness.

The PCs showed some great teamwork and strategy. Damakos started off by undoing the weevil's chains, while the rest of the group concentrated on the goblin minions. Once free, the Weevil spread its wings, grabbed one of the Drow, and flew off down the hallway carrying its prey.

Then a strange thing happened - one of the Drow fighters started choking. He stumbled past Damakos, tugging at the neckline of his chainmail, provoking an attack of opportunity. A hole appeared in the chest of the Drow's chainmail. The chain weave opened on its own, leaving a direct path to the Drow's heart. Damakos made his opportunity attack, and killed the Drow instantly.

This still left three Drow, and they were tough opponents, so the battle still lasted a while. The final Drow was the magic user, who escaped through a magic portal. After the battle, while looting the corpses, Drew suddenly felt a strange calling. He was compelled to examine the Drow who choked. Drew could feel a connection with the Drow's armor - it wanted Drew to put it on. As Drew put on his new chainmail, he felt a presence. He felt more honorable, but also more bloodthirsty. He was itching to find more evil to vanquish.

The next door led to the treasure room. Well, the room formerly known as the treasure room, as all the treasure chests were empty.

Okay, they didn't tie me up, but there was some grumbling. But really, am I actually going to give "ultimate treasure" to a 4th-level party?

There were two more doors in the treasure room. One was just a storage room, but the other had several goblins and an orc playing cards. Drew went into a frenzy, his chainmail filling him with hatred towards the orc. They left one goblin alive so they could ask him about the treasure.

The goblin explained that the Drow had taken the treasure back to the Underdark, years ago. When the Drow first discovered the Weevil cult, they took over the Temple of Light, never letting the other temples know there were Drow in their midst. Since then, they've been farming Weevil eggs so that they could build their own army of Weevils. They kept the other temples going because it was in their best interests - with the cultists taking care of the Weevils, all the Drow had to do was sit back and collect the eggs.

Disappointed, but not completely empty-handed, the party returned to Trasa and did a little more research on Drew's new armor. It is the "Invulnerable Coat of Arnd" (DMG p. 170), a major artifact. It is infused with the will of an honorable cleric, who died long ago defending his town from attack.

Whether the armor will continue to consider Drew worthy to wear it, will depend on Drew's actions. It already betrayed its former master, but of course the artifact would hate to be used by such an evil creature. Drew could very well find his own neck in peril if he commits dishonorable acts while wearing the armor. Hopefully he will remember this... but it will be more entertaining if he doesn't. ;)

XP Rewards:
Note: I'm counting the party as 7 for the Earth Temple, since the Half'-Orc fought. But I'm not counting the Elven girl in the Water Temple, because she just cowered in the corner the whole time.
Water Temple - Statue Puzzle/Elementals - 300/6=50
Water Weevil - 500/6=83
Air Temple Puzzle/Gargoyles - 300/6=50
Air Weevil - 500/6=83
Earth Temple Puzzle/Elementals - 300/7=43
Earth Weevil - 500/7=71
Fire Temple Puzzle - 300/6=50
Fire Weevil - 500/6=83
Life Temple Puzzle ("ROB") - 300/6=50
Drow/Goblins Encounter - 800/6=133
Quest Completion - 1000/4=250

Total Session Reward - 948 Each

And everyone gained a level:
Dorath 360+948=1308 (Level 2)
Drew 4959+948=5907 (Level 5)
Tirah 2944+948=3892 (Level 4)
Damakos 4734+948=5682 (Level 5)

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