The Serpents Skull

2 Weeks Later

(Initial apologies to everyone for rushing the end on game night, I missed some things in the process which I hope to remedy with this conclusion.)

With the whole gang present Sendan, the party rogue, moved through the next set of double doors.
He paused and looked around for possible traps.
He didn’t find one, but it instead found him as the room with the pool of blood in the middle of the room dropped two heavy metal walls over the doors. Sendan was quick though, and lept back out of the way.

Zoltar and Mad Harriette, with her magically strong hair, managed to lift the metal wall to get back to the room but were unable to keep it held as the cleric, Innovo, tried to hammer spikes into the trap wall to keep it lifted. After it dropped they could hear mechanical noises inside the room which was a warning of other issues beyond.
After that fall they tried again, lifting it half way this time and using Sendan’s keen eye for putting a stop to devices, to lock it in place.

Impatient with the party’s debate on how to approach the room next room the cleric, Innovo, went in and began carefully making his way through when heavy swinging pendulum axes dropped from the ceiling and managed swing by and cut the cleric who promptly dropped to the floor to crawl around. Long story short, some detect magic and official rogue snooping, the party managed to find the hidden buttons that stopped the traps in the room.

They spent some time playing with the bloody pool, only to ask the water memphit, Captain Ekubus, to see if he knew anything about the strange pool of blood.

The deranged Captain decided to ‘parley’ with the pool to ask it a question and as he leaned over the pool to listen for a reply, Mad Harriette thought it would be funny to use her hair to knock the little guy into the pool they had determined was only two feet deep (by prodding with a javelin).

He fell in with a squeal but didn’t return to the surface.
After a brief wait, Mad Harriette began to dig around in the pool with her hair. Zoltar jumped in and tried to search for Ekubus as well and they found that there was a small foot wide hole in the bottom of the pool with some suction in it. They then realized he had been sucked away. Mad Harriette tried to lower a rope with a rock into the hole and let it go as far as it could to maybe find the Captain but it was to no avail, he was gone. Zoltar was feeling strange from his dip in the pool and Innovo consecrated the blood, which made him feel better.

With no other choice than to move on the group found themselves in a large alter room where a lizard-humanoid ordered some skeletons with her to attack the group, declaring them unfit lesser races that were interrupting an important discovery. Innovo managed to make quick work of the skeletons and the barbarian Zoltar was dominated into protecting the lizard woman only to be put to sleep by Mad Harriette’s rare successful curses. The battle continued with her being pushed back further into the room…

  • SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THIS MODULE AND PLAN TO <<*
    The lizard lady, her mirror images dissipated by a well-placed magic missile barrage from the Magus, Fafnir, was running out of tricks and used the rooms magical features to turn into a gaseous form to escape out a tube in the ceiling. After some debate, in which Innovo promptly started summoning water into a nearby dry fountain that started springing back to life, spewing water into the air, the group took up after her, using their blood on the statue to turn gaseous as well. One by one each of them followed into the small gas tunnel and ended up in another small X shaped room with a similar statue.

On the floor lay the lizard woman, dead. Her throat cut but a human female in rags that was holding a dagger. She was very glad to see the party materializing before her and explained how she was captured after her ship wrecked and tricked into thinking the lizard lady was her friend until she found out she was really there to be a meal for her.

Suspicious, Mad Harriette, and particularly Innovo, could see something was amiss with the human so Mad Harriet used her hair to pin the human captive against the wall for some intimidating questioning. The group had also noticed some strangely familiar clothes piled in the corner of the room, that of Iena, the woman who led the original ship’s captain astray to crash on this island that had them suspicious. After enough threats and intimidation, the human snapped, cutting Mad Harriette’s hair and lunging towards her with unexpected deftness. Instead of trying to stab Mad Harriette, the woman BIT her, but the pain and effects of the pain didn’t line up with what one could expect from a human and Mad Harriette found herself poised and weakening fast.

((OOC: Note, if not for Mad Harriette’s outrageous plan to use her own pet lizard’s poison to use as a type of anti-venom, and if she kept failing those saves, yes, she would have died and no amount of cleric healing would have fixed that.))

The battle commenced and the human woman soon lost her concentration on the illusory form she had and turned back into the lizard woman. The fake image of the dead lizard lady disappeared and the group realized all at once that the lizard woman was in fact Iena, a master of illusory arts and the reason for their being stranded on this island.

The battle continued some more and Iena, who was actually called Yarzoth, managed to touch the statue’s lips again to go gaseous and move to escape out another small air tunnel. A gaseous form was slow to move however, and the group had one last chance to stop her.
Sendan leapt up on the statue and tried to stuff the deer skin pelt into the hold but the gaseous Yarzoth started seeping up into it. Weapons were of no use on the gas, but Innovo soon found that magic was.

Using a spell that was contrary to his faith, Innovo used a ‘Cause Moderate Wounds’ spell, (And also using up the special ‘crit-mas’ card ability I gave the players in December), to swipe a magic filled hand through the air and into the gaseous form of Yarzoth.

The magic sealed Yarzoth’s fate as with a crunch, the last of her life force was depleted and her form turned back solid, with her head stuck in the hole in the ceiling, her body hanging out like from a hangmans noose. Zoltar hanked it free with a sickening ‘slurch’ sound. Yarzoth was defeated.

As the group caught its breath Innovo found a chalice stuck in the wall, it had been unearthed but stuck nonetheless. It had symbolism of his diety on it and he managed to yank it free but it had magical properties in it that caused a strange chain reaction within the cleric. Up until this point, Mad Harriette had caught glimpses of a red glint in Innovo’s eyes and felt something strange about the cleric. All that came to fruition now as unexplained energies painfully ripped Innovo into two beings magically before the party’s eyes. The Innovo clone had a dark, red, powerful glow about him and a presence that had everyone off guard.

The new being walked over to Innovo and somehow reached a translucent arm through Innovo’s own arm and yanked the magical gauntlet flail the cleric was so fond of off his hand. The weapon, now in the hands of a being that was in touch with other planes of existence, lit on fire as more of its power was brought to bear. This being, this alter ego, this dark side of Innovo, seemed very satisfied with it’s new toy.

Not one to stand by, Zoltar threw a battleaxe straight for the beings head with a great throw but IT caught the axe in midair and threw it back, where it promptly flew by the barbarian into the wall. The group had a better grasp of the trouble they were in at that moment, but had nowhere to run.

Innovo made a move and was promptly throat grabbed and pinned against a wall. Mad Harriette may or may not have done something to get its attention but felt the full slam of the magical flail that sent her into the -2 HP realm, sprawled on the floor. Fafnir, with a shocking grasp stored up in his sword for the ENTIRE battle, managed to score a hit on the being, which cause his muscles to spasm enough that Innovo was dropped to the ground.

“Enough of this, I have what I wanted.”, it said with a grin. It promptly summoned a dimension door, a black portal appeared beside it and it stepped through and was gone.
Unbeknownst to the group, it didn’t leave because of just that or because it had just got shocked, something else had caught it’s attention. Up in the ceiling of the room, a bloody Captain Ekubus had come crawling through the hold in the ceiling, sporting an angry scowl. The being, a creature that was born of an alternate plane and the essence of Innovo’s dark side, saw a blood demon entering the room and knew it would have been much more trouble that it was worth to deal with the creature and that the blood demon, a likely first of many to pour through that hole, would wipe out the weakling humanoids in the room anyway, so it left. It had the artifact weapon, Phoenix, after all, and it knew how to unlock its true potential.

Back in the room, Captain Ekubus had felt the strange other worldly presence that was the Innovo twin being, and promptly made the same move that it did, and crawled back up in the hole it came through to go back and take a dip in that nice pool of water in the next room. He was confused about having fallen into the pool of magic red water he was trying to talk to and after a long swim through a happy sucky tunnel, he was spewed out into another large cavernous area with no orientation to find his way around until he saw Innovo turn into a green fart and fly up into a hole in the ceiling, so he decided to investigate. The water outside was back to normal so he was satisfied Princess Mad Harriette had kept her bargain and he went about finding his way back to his sunken ship that he was the captain of and have a stern talking to with his first mate, Crabby, about the dangers of strangers in these dark times.

The group got out of the X shaped room by going gaseous again, filtering out the other small hole which led outside the temple dungeon shortly after the rogue managed to narrowly avoid being cursed by a magic ward on yet ANOTHER something he didn’t bother checking for traps on. (Spending 2 hero points in the process to avoid the horrible effects that tried to take hold on him.)
Outside, the group caught their breath again and before heading back to find the other survivors, waited patiently as Innovo, with a determined look, swam back underwater to the open gate they two merfolk that were guarding the entry way had left open and made his way all the way back to the alter room alone. He needed the time for self-reflection and to finish a job he had not completed but had already made his mind up to take care of. He consecrated the altar and watched as it crunched and broke under the holy spell, he kicked and bashed it into a pulp then and felt a weight lift off his shoulders. In fact , a weight had lifted off of the entire island then. The powerful magic altar had been poisoning the island with its dark magic (which he had felt earlier but was rushed out to go help his friends with the lizard lady). The curse on the island was lifted, all the undead that inhabited the island re-died in that very moment.
They spent the next couple of days making their way back north to reconnect with the rest of the survivors who were actually coming down the path to meet them with the other three merfolk from Kerlarns troop that were escorting them back.

They were saddened to find out the Ishirou had perished a few days prior, along with the druid, fending off a horde of monstrous giant lizards, but the rest had recovered and were thrilled to get news about the scouting party that had been gone for a week!

Mad Harriette and Sergeant Kelarn had a discussion off to the side then after which the Sergeant nodded to her solemnly, gave her a salute and took his surviving merfolk back into the water. She didn’t explain to the group what was said, at least not yet.

With everyone in tow, the group made their way back to the southwest side of the island, repaired the lighthouse and after a few days of running the new light, managed to cheer as a merchant ship ‘Red Gull’ anchored off shore and sent long boats up to rescue the group. Captain Euluk Tegerten of the Red Gull welcomed their stories and provided safe passage back to their original destination, Eleder where he suggested they take their recovered scrolls and wall rubbings to some sages for further research and felt they were on to something big.

It was a quick trip back to Eleder too, come to find out, the Serpents Skull island was a mere 50 miles off shore. Making land, the group agreed to take refuge at the Harbor Inn, and take a few days to recuperate , split the spoils from the island and decide on what was to be done with the vast amount of information they had gathered from Yarzoth’s writings.

Eleder

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Day 13 (evening)

The group hunkered down in the entry way of the under sea-level structure to try and recuperate some but after the barbarian decided to play ‘throw an axe at the target’ and various other noise making activities, the group encountered another small black skin and bones doll construct that managed to get them back on their toes. They had all the exits covered so they weren’t sure where the thing came from until one of the merfolk guards found a trap door in one of the alcoves in the room. Mad Hariette managed to capture the creature and soon found out it DID speak and that the groups rouge, Sendan, understood that language.. (and six others!, he was a genius after all), they proceeded to interrogate it when…

“What the heck is that noise?”

That was one of the questions floating around after a loud rumbling sound accompanied a breeze about that time as the entry way soon flooded with water again. It seems the sea level outside couldn’t stay down forever. The entry door closed with that event, automatically it seemed but the heroes found a lever that would open it again, so they at least were not trapped.
The shock of the incoming water did have unforeseen consequences though, Mad Hariette broke the doll’s neck out of ‘accidental’ frustration. (See what happens when the DM gets to run your character? Ha!)

The barbarian turned back to the trap door and when ‘pulling it up’ failed, he managed to ‘break it to pieces with my sword’ technique. It worked quite well.

Having disturbed the area down the twenty foot drop of the chute below the trap door another one of the doll creatures climbed out and began to wreak havoc on the group but was quickly dispatched.

The party then got back going, taking one of the double doors out of the entrance way and made their way into the place, killing a few skeletons over here, leaving two merfolk soldiers behind to watch the exit bridge, falling into a trapped pit over there (Which killed one of the merfolk and nearly took out Sgt. Kelarn, the leader of the merfolk party) and making their way down another passage where Sendan actually found the next pit trap and disabled it just in time for the group turn around to face a horrid creature. It was a mound of toothy mouths and eyes and was putting a good whooping on the barbarian who stepped up to take the brunt of the beasts attacks but the groups efforts managed to keep anyone from falling to the vile creature.
(They managed to find a couple of glass vial potions of some sort inside the creature after

Exhausted and spent. The group stopped for a rest before the next set of doors before them, having cleared out all the other rooms (other than that trap door pit and the odd little ‘tunnels’ at the bottom of the pit they fell into).

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Day 13 (ish)

Brief summary update here to try and catch up the last couple of games.

The group moved on from the barbarian outpost, leaving the unrepaired lighthouse behind to investigate suspicions to the east. With their clues they made their way to a hilltop where some obelisks were found that lined up with the information they found in the den mothers caverns.
With some trial and error (not to mention fighting the dreaded winged beast that had been haunting them from time to time), they were able to activate the device that drained the nearby cover of water, revealing the entrance to some underground structure of some sort.

They made their way down to enter the doors that had opened with the fall of the water and met up with a water mephit in a sunken ship who seemed quite mad, yet interesting and oddly enough, they were able to convince the creature to accompany them for a short time for the promise of ‘raising the water’ back up, which they had no idea how to accomplish (but he didn’t know that!).

Just before entering the complex, a troop of watery denizens rose out of the water. It was a military contingent of aquatic merfolk that led to some strange discussions. They promptly arrived, having been ‘notified’ of the ‘princess’ being back in the water, which was actually the result of the witch ‘Mad Harriette’ (the human woman who thought she was an orc), having put on a pearl comb in her hair, that when she entered water (which she had to do to cross over to the entrance).
* This tidbit of information was merely hinted at in the game and if anyone actually reads this, you now know fully why.

They were convinces Mad Harriett was their long lost merfolk princess trapped in human form and agreed, rather, insisted, that they accompany her to face whatever challenges she had immediately in front of her so that she could then return back with them to their under water kingdom to help them defeat their enemies, which was fortold by legend.

With Mad Harriette having some influence over the group, she asked that half of them (4 of the 9) be dispatched to go back and check on the humans that the party left on the north side of the island a week ago to make sure they were ok.

With that the party, along with 5 merfolk in tow, entered the complex and ran into their first battle with some not so normal skeletal figures that managed to drop a couple party members and kill one of the merfolk in the ensuing battle.

To be continued…

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Day_12

The adventurers, with their newly acquired village of dead bodies, decided to check out the pit in the village center and found it was a cavernous underground. Treading carefully they soon encountered the undead horrors that lurked below including the answer to what happened to the captain of the Jenivere via a bloody note he had left behind in the caves.

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They soon also found some clues about a serpentine cult via an ancient temple area. With some magical comprehension assistance from the groups witch, they found the following information as well.

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Soon after that and much more undead destroyed, they ran into the den mother who ran this place. Unlike the others she was a thinking being of magical prowess that had the group on their heels in an instant with promises of everlasting life and a spell of absolute darkness in tight quarters. The tide soon turned as a back to back crit action from the witch, Mad Hariette and the cleric, Innovo, destroyed the overwhelmed den mother, ending the rule of the islands cannibalistic – undead union.
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Day 10 + 11

(Catching up!)

Day 10

The group headed west the next day, they soon found themselves on a well worn path that they soon discovered was laden with trip wires and nooses. Mad Harriet (I believe) was the first to get yanked into the air and slammed into a spike laden tree. Zoltar (the half orc barbarian) had the bright idea to run, leap and grab the witch out of the air and hope their combined weight would break the rope. It didn’t go quite as planned. Zoltar and Mad Harriet slammed BACK into the tree spikes before the tree limb broke, dropping them to the ground painfully.

After that, the rogue was out in front spotting for traps. Lesson learned.

The prisoner that was being dragged along (in Mad Harriet’s hair) was soon killed after the group came to a crossroads and he told them (correctly so) that his tribes main camp was to the south. I forget what finally led to the decision for his death but it likely involved his continued snide demeanor.

Later on more traps were bypassed along with an eight legged distraction before the group set up for the end of night 10.

Day 11

The group found themselves set upon by a group of zombies as morning broke, promptly dispatching them before the group finally made their way to where the lighthouse was, which was also surrounded by a barbarian village.

At the camp Innovo attempted diplomacy and quickly found himself captured and locked in the butchery pen so the group was left without a primary healer as they entered camp and the second round of negotiations broke down into a battle.

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Zoltar made his way through the battlefield to break the cleric out just in time to help keep the group alive. Skeletons, barbarians and a mean looking lizard died before the ‘king of the hill’ a tall muscle bound red headed barbarian burst out of the base of the lighthouse. The battle was close with Mad Harriet finding herself in the red (-2) at the hands of the crit-happy barbarian. Zoltar was tied up with that same barbarian on the ground in a wrestling match as the barb leader made his way around putting a hurt on the group. The BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) was making his away around the fight while Zoltar was frustrated with being tied up in a ground fight so he promptly bit the throat out of the barbarian he was fighting and swung his 2-Handed blade at the leg of the passing leader, promptly severing his calf muscle and interrupting his charge at the magus Fafnir who slipped a shocking grasp empowered blade up through the chin and into the skull of the red headed leader, promptly ending the battle.

The party searched the camp, gathered some treasure and found the top of the lighthouse to be ‘incomplete’, a project that would take their untrained selves many days to fix if they devoted their time to it. While at the top of the lighthouse clouds rolled across the island from all directions, gathering swiftly in the east where lightning struck the ground over and over in the distance creating a long roaring sound that lasted a few minutes before the clouds dissipated as quickly as they gathered.

Lastly, the group took note of a couple other interesting things at the camp that were of note. One, in a small room in the base of the lighthouse was some wrappers marking rations from the Jennivere, what this meant was still a mystery. Secondly, there was alot of wooden planks covering a pit near the center of the camp surrounded by climbing ropes, stakes and the hint of a breeze rolling into the deep black hole underneath. That with MORE roaring sounds in the east later that evening, left the group with more questions than answers on the island.

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Day 9

The group woke to a strange sight. Zoltar was on guard duty in the wee hours of the morning but had not noticed that a web like dome had ‘grew’ around them in the dark night. They tested it with a rock and found that it was indeed a sticky web-like substance. Not one to stick around Mad Harriet broke out a bottle of universal solvent and melted a man sized hold in the side of the dome while Sendan noticed a ‘shiny’ light at the top of the center of the web dome.

Daylight was just starting to break when he shot an arrow straight up at the light. The arrow thunked into what was right above the light, something solid.. and large. What looked like tree trunks around the outside of the dome began to move and were quickly interpeted to be large legs of the darkness that was hovering over the web dome, that of some gigantic spider beast with legs that had to at least be twenty feet long, all eight of them. This thing was as big as a house.

Our heroes did the only sane thing any group of level 1’s would do, and ran. Promptly leaving all their gear behind in the process.

After a long run to the edge of a ravine Sendan (the only one with stealth) went back for the gear. Mad Harriet was soon to follow to make sure everything went ok. Sendan got the gear fine but when he and Mad Harriet finally crossed paths Mad Harriet noticed a small dark figure shadowing the rogue. Mad Harriet ambushed the child like voodoo doll looking creature but the thing latched on to Mad Harriet’s long hair (with which she attacked the doll) and promptly started levitating the duo up in the air and above the tree line. Mad Harriet finally managed to kill it with only a forty foot drop to the ground wherein she managed to use her immensely strong hair to latch onto the upper branches of a tree and only take minimal damage for the drop.

Back with the group everyone then made their way along the high side of a ravine that was blocking them from the tallest part of the island, which was their goal, and spend the next few hours making it to the only spot on the island that had a safe traversable slope up to the hilltop. The group found a path at that point which led to a long abandoned shack that Zoltar promptly tore apart because.. it was what he does. After slaying the shack-beast they made their way up the hill and took a good look at what they could see of the island. One of the group did a little minor digging and found a broken spade (shovel) just under the surface, it was about then that five of the islands humanoid inhabitants made their appearance in what would prove to be a very close battle. Those barbarian types sure hit hard, but Zoltar was hitting harder, dropping one after another. A couple of the group dropped but the ever stoic Innovo kept the group alive with his healing magics. It was a long ninth day but they survived… and spotted what looked like the top of a lighthouse in the far southwest corner of the island. There was yet hope of escape!

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Day 8 Map

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Spider Fight

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Day 8, Water Adventures

With some friendly prompting from Gelik the adventurers Mad Hariette, Zoltar, Sendan, Fafnir and Innovo set out to make the long trek south to try and reach the highest point on the island to get a good look at the place. They had a harrowing encounter with four zombies along the way that nearly ran Harriet’s pet Sleestak off into the woods never to return. The battle was rough going for a bit, a couple of the heroes found themselves on their backs after the hefty zombie-slams they were suffering. Innovo’s anti-undead blasts were well put to use against the creatures. Zoltar attempted to intimidate one of them but quickly found that the undead literally couldn’t care less about one thing anyone had to say.

Next they ran across a patch of viper nettles at a river split that Mad Harriet recognized as having some great curative type properties. (A nat 20 heal check will do that!) They promptly hacked their way through the dense thicket to harvest the berries. Innovo managed to cure the sickening rash that Zoltar had suffered in the picking process easily enough.

The band then spent a couple hours fashioning a couple of rafts to quickly get down the river and after a couple of unbalanced splashy swims on the rough waters in the middle of a downpour they finally started slowing down near the rivers end only to have a giant spider land right in the midst of Sendan, Fafnir and Innovo. The battle was quite intense with Zoltar and Mad Harriet quickly taking a dip in the water as they tried to slow down and get back to help the others but between Fafnir’s magical attacks, Sendan’s deft blade and Innovo’s epic spider beheading move, they managed well enough and reached the end of the river shortly after just as night was falling to set up camp. Sendan had suffered a spider bite towards the end of the battle and was unable to even move as they pulled up into shallow water. (His 8 STR was now a 1 !). Two lesser restoration potions (600 gp value) later and he was able to walk again instead of floundering around like a deformed cripple, moaning at everyone like he was one of the zombies.

The rain stopped just as night arrived and the group was able to have a restful night and use the next day to finally reach the pinnacle of the island and see what they could see.

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XP, Food, Gelik Updates

Four game days have passed on this past Sunday nights adventures. (Half of which were spent recovering from diseases and poisons!) Xp, Food Log, Camp Map, Island Map and Gelik’s Journal have been updated.

Also added the camp defense map and overland hex map of the island.

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